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Orr, Lindsey want pay raise for people who work in prisons

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — A Republican Senator from Decatur and a Democratic Senator from Butler want to increase salaries of people who work at state corrections facilities.

Sens. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Pat Lindsey, D-Butler, have pre-filed legislation to raise the pay of workers at state prisons and other Department of Corrections facilities by 10 percent, Orr said.

The two said the state would have more success attracting and retaining employees if the pay were higher. The corrections system is coping with chronic staff shortages, they said.

Their bill, S.B. 2, is already available for viewing online at the Web site of the Alabama Legislature.

Orr said there is risk involved in working with inmates, and he termed the proposed increase a kind of "hazardous duty pay" to help the department fill vacant job slots and retain current employees.

Losing employees

Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said during 2007 budget hearings that his department loses employees to higher-paying jobs with other state law-enforcement agencies.

The starting salary for a corrections officer is $26,620.

Brian Corbett, Corrections Department spokesman, said the pay increase would help recruiting.

The department has about 3,700 employees, but not all would receive a raise.

The increase would go to 2,235 corrections officers and trainees and 458 supervisors at prisons and various corrections programs.

It would affect those employed with work-release programs, such as those in Decatur and at Limestone Correctional facility, but not, for example, people who work at the depxxxxartmental headquarters in Montgomery.

The Alabama State Employees Association backed one bill that did not pass in the last session.

Lindsey and Orr both wanted the increase in 2007, and Gov. Bob Riley proposed the increase during his 2006 re-election campaign.

Funding for corrections can be a hard sell in the Legislature, especially during years when there is little extra money in the General Fund budget.

Allen promised to push for funds for more competitive salaries when Riley named him commissioner in early 2006.

On the Net

Alabama Legislative Information System Online,

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