As most of you are aware a federal court, following a jury trial filed by a Missouri inmate, has led to a ruling that “all tobacco products and use there in be removed from Missouri prisons”.
I want to make it clear we are not in favor of this decision. However, with this being a federal court decision we have no avenue to challenge the issue. This issue has come up in the past but was never implemented so it’s not a new issue here at MOCOA. The way this issue has come about (via) court ruling has made it nearly impossible to challenge. We can only hope to get through this issue with minimal fallout. We will be in talks with the department discussing ways to make this transition as harmless as possible to staff. As this unfolds we will post new updates.
Here at the MOCOA office, we have been receiving MANY phone calls concerning staff shortages and overtime.
We are painfully aware of the situation. We have been relaying this problem to legislators, the Governors’ office and central office for a very long time. We are aware that this is a pot ready to boil over. Without major changes from legislators it is only going to get worse in the near future.
The hiring pools are depleted. Nobody wants to work for a department that is one of the lowest paid in the nation. The money isn’t there to run the risk of being a corrections officer. It’s just not worth it to most people. Until the wages go up significantly theses hiring pools will remain empty.
This causes a very dangerous situation for our corrections staff and the public. Many officers are being forced to work multiple double shifts every week. They are burned out, tired and frustrated. Many essential posts aren’t being covered due to staff shortages. These conditions are the perfect storm for an employee to “drop the ball” or simply miss something that they would have normally caught. We understand this.
It also is a prime opportunity for inmates as well. They know how short staffed we are as well as anybody. Our state government is aware. They have the statistics on prison staff shortages. They know that it increases our chances of being hurt and that it increases the chances of riots and discourse within the inmate population.
We are frustrated as well. We want nothing more than for our prisons to be staffed well and for our officers to be paid a decent wage and to be safe in their work environment. We are still carrying the battle flag on this situation.
If you are being worked to the breaking point and being held accountable for anything caused by exhaustion please call us. No negative entries should be placed in your file due to this situation. We urge you to keep records of these shortages each shift so that if the unthinkable happens you can prove through documentation that it was a direct result of these shortages. You may need these figures later.
Please stay vigilant, watch your fellow officers and above all else stay safe.