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$60 Million For Overtime in Illinois Prisons Two Years Straight

Updated: Wednesday, July 16 2014, 10:56 PM CDT
ILLINOIS -- 60-million-dollars. That's what the Illinois Department of Corrections says it paid out for overtime last year. Newschannel at 9's Rebekah Thurston tells us why the department has had such high numbers for two years now.

Warden Shelith Hansboro says there are many factors that come into play when looking at prison overtime.

For the second year in a row, more than$ 60 million have gone towards paying for overtime work in Illinois prisons.

"This is a consequence of operating a prison system that has too many inmates and not enough staff," said Joanna Webb-Gaubin, AFSCME Legislative Director.

The warden of Decatur Correctional Center, Shelith Hansbro, is seeing it here locally.

"Our overtime increased about 14%... We also saw a population increase of offenders of about 11%," said Hansbro.

She attributes many of the overtime hours to the transportation of inmates.

"We must insure, that if an offender has a healthcare issue, we have to get them to hospitals... That is our responsibility,"said Hansbro.

That's only part of it. Decatur also absorbed some responsibilities when the state closed the Dwight Correctional Facility last year.

"Now, we are doing all the transportation, that means our staff, we're using Decatur staff, to go and pick them up and bring them here," said Hansbro.

Another factor, an unexpected surplus of guards retiring last year. AFSCME says, since 2001, the Department of Corrections has lost a third of it's staff.

"It also creates a dangerous environment for inmates and staff," said Webb-Gaubin.

But it takes time to train an officer for prison settings.

"We have to make sure that they are trained properly and that training takes some time...That's six weeks at the academy for example, but then there's some on the job training that has to occur also."

Hansbro says four to five classes graduate from the academy every year.

In Taylorville, they did see a decrease in overtime hours at their correctional center. Overall, though still above $60 million, the number did drop 12% from last year. They expect that number to continue to decrease.

The 2015 budget did allocate some additional funds to cover overtime expenses for prisons, but AFSCME reps say more still needs to be done. $60 Million For Overtime in Illinois Prisons Two Years Straight

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