State

December 3, 2013

California prison system hiring 7,000 officers

California’s penal system says it will need to hire thousands of prison guards in the next three years to fill its depleted ranks

Confronted with a growing wave of retirements, the California Department of Corrections said today that it will need to hire approximately 7,000 prison officers over the next three years to fill current and future vacancies statewide.

The state has about 25,000 fewer inmates in its 34 adult prisons owing to a two-year-old program that sends more convicted offenders to local jails, while attrition also is draining the prison-officer ranks with an average 150 retiring each month, according to corrections statistics. The state employees about 28,500 full-time-equivalent parole and prison officers, according to state union contract documents posted on the California Department of Human Resources’ website.

The job application process is notoriously slow. Assuming applicants have the minimum qualifications (U.S. citizenship, high school diploma, at least 21 at time of appointment and pass a drug-test screening, can legally own and use a firearm), candidates must then pass a written test, go through a qualifications assessment, pass a physical fitness test, vision screening and psychological evaluation, a pre-employment medical examination and a background investigation.

The whole thing, from application to entrance to the department’s 16-week academy in Galt, can take up to one year. Base wage for academy cadets: $3,050 a month. New correctional officers earn $3,774 per month plus overtime and benefits.

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