TOPEKA (KSNT) — Both employees and inmates are feeling the effects of understaffing at the Shawnee County Department of Corrections.
Last year, the Shawnee County Department of Corrections, which staffs the Adult Detention Center and Juvenile Detention Center, said it had 70 vacancies that needed to be filled in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it has somewhere around 53 positions that still haven’t been filled.
“Are we in a full-fledged emergency?” SCDOC Director Brian Cole said. “The answer is no, but we’re getting close to getting there. We’re experiencing lockdowns more which causes a decrease in services, causing stress to staff, inmates, the community, and their families. And we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure we have quality staff.”
The Shawnee County Adult Detention Center said it’s trying to do everything in its power to turn its situation around. This comes in the form of an event that is taking place today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the lobby of the Adult Detention Center located at 401 SE 8th Ave. Anyone who is over 21 and does not have a felony on their record is welcome to come to the event and apply. Staff are even doing interviews on the spot if a candidate piques their interest.
Understaffing in the correctional field is not just specific to Shawnee County. The Justice Department budgeted for 20,446 full-time correctional officer positions in 2020, but the agency that runs federal prisons said it currently employs 13,762 officers, the Associated Press reported.
The hiring event is open until 8 p.m. tonight and anyone in the community is asked to come and apply if they meet the two basic qualifications. If more positions are filled, the quality of life of the employees and the inmates stands to improve.
Anyone interested in working at the Department of Corrections can also visit the Shawnee County website to send in an application online.