With last year’s salary increase, an entry-level corrections officer at an adult or juvenile detention center makes about $31,000.
Gov. Brian Kemp has proposed a $5,000 increase for state employees. Oliver said that pay bump could help keep officers, but he said the issue is more than just low pay. It’s often difficult to keep new entry-level officers at juvenile facilities longer than a month, Oliver said.
“We typically lose officers before they get through the academy,” Oliver said in an interview. “Most people leave within 30 days. Some people walk in and realize this is not for them — it’s a difficult population, they can’t bring in their phones, they can feel cut off from the outside world. It’s almost like a culture shock.”
The situation is similar at the Department of Corrections. Corrections Commissioner Timothy Ward told lawmakers that annual turnover for corrections officers is about 49%.
“Hiring is not an issue with us; the issue that we have is retention,” Ward said. “We have a challenging work environment, we have aging infrastructure, we have more violent offenders with longer sentences and a lack of telework capabilities for our staff.”