Over 430 DOC employees may see a pay raise they missed out on last year
Over 2,800 Department of Corrections employees received a $2-per-hour pay raise last year, and an agency spokesman said that raise has helped recruit and retain corrections officers.
But more than 430 Corrections Department employees who should have also gotten that raise did not, so multiple lawmakers are working to find a solution.
The intent of last year's pay-raise legislation was to give a boost to all employees who have contact with inmates. But a classification error left hundreds off that list.
“Due to the way they have people classified, they’ll have one secretary that is sitting in the jail among the inmates, and then you have another secretary that is sitting in an administrative office that has no inmate contact,” said Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane. “But they have those two classified the same. But there is a big difference with inmate contact, and that person should have a raise.”
Humphrey authored House Bill 2896, which would not only give a raise to the group of missed Corrections Department employees but extend it to probation officers, as well.
Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, authored a similar bill that is making its way through the Senate, though it includes raises only for the roughly 430 Corrections Department employees originally left out.
Bobby Cleveland, director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, said the raises are meant to treat corrections employees “like human beings.”
“These guys are on the front line,” Cleveland said. “It is a very tough job.”
The original raise cost roughly $15 million, according to agency numbers. The department has requested an additional $1.67 million from the Legislature for its next yearly budget to provide the raises to the other employees.
Since all state employees received some sort of raise last year based on annual salary, some of the corrections employees would receive an adjusted raise.
“Let’s say someone got a $1.50-per-hour raise last year,” Pugh said. “They are going to get the rest of the 50 cents this year.”
The raises had overwhelming bipartisan support last year, and lawmakers so far expect that support to continue.
Pugh’s bill is up to be heard on the Senate floor, and Humphrey’s bill will soon be able to be heard on the House floor.
Multiple other bills up for consideration this session also attempt to improve pay and working conditions for prison employees.
One bill would provide a $75-per-month stipend to officers who serve on the Correctional Emergency Response Team, and another looks to guarantee employees a 15-minute break at least once every eight hours during a shift.