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DOC numbers for staff do not add up

August 27, 2005|By Elaine Gladhill

I would like to express my gratitude to The Herald-Mail and staff for covering the concerns of the employees of Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the Hagerstown and Western Maryland region.

In my 21 years as a state employee, 14 of them as a correctional officer at Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, I have learned something very important. There is no "I" in team. What was done in the last two years was done with a cumulative teamwork from the Hagerstown Region Department of Correction's staff.

I would encourage you to continue with that teamwork and continue the quest for more staffing positions, security posts and safer correctional facilities. But foremost, remember to use teamwork while working the floors of these prisons.

Teach the rookies during this time of shortfalls in security posts and staffing positions. For we work at a thankless job, and only have each other to watch out for us. We don't care who takes credit for a job well done. Rest assured, I will continue to be part of your team. As one officer put it to me bluntly, "I knew you wouldn't quit. Retirement just gave you a megaphone and freedom of speech."

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As for the column by Bob Maginnis in The Herald-Mail on Sunday, July 17, we would like to have the extra roving patrol and tower officer during outside inmate activities, if DOC would give us the manpower to do this. As stated, policy and reality don't match.

Why is it that when DOC administrators, spokesperson, or the executive director of communication is asked a direct question their framed line is, "We cannot reveal the areas or information for security reasons."

Here is a news flash for you: The inmates and officers know what is and what isn't staffed. The only ones who seem to be clueless are the DOC administrators from the secretary on down to her spokesman - and the public continues to go uninformed.

Shouldn't the citizens who pay the bills know how their money is being spent? Ask why there are more positions budgeted than DOC authorizes for these correctional facilities. Is DOC using these extra funds to fund other positions that are not budgeted?

Spokesperson Jacqueline Lampell answers, "Absolutely not. We are frequently asked during the budget cycle to provide extensive documentation on staffing levels."

I for one would like to know what documents you give them. It can't be those for MCI-H!

It's a simple fact that on Dec. 10, 2003, MCI-H was cut by 63 seven-day security posts and were to lower staffing positions of correctional officers and sergeants from 453 as budgeted to the 370 now authorized.

And by August, 2004, eight months later, MCI-H staffing dwindled down to 383 and to a low of 350 by January 2005 - even though the budget shows staffing of these positions going from 453 to 404.

What did DOC administrators do in November 2003? Commissioner Frank Sizer placed a hiring freeze on these positions that was not lifted until January 2005. So how could one possibly hire to replace those who left and fill vacancies? And why was DOC still asking for funding of more than positions than they had?

In FY 2006, MCI-H is budgeted for 395 of these positions, even though DOC has only authorized 370 at MCI-H, where there are currently 16 vacancies, so only 354 of these positions are filled. Is there any wonder why one could question the budget?

If DOC administrators are telling the budget committee and the General Assembly that they need taxpayers' dollars to staff 395 staff positions in FY 2006, but are only authorizing this facility to have 370, someone is giving them the wrong information!

If there is any misunderstanding of information here, it comes from DOC administrators, not the budget committee. DOC administrators and headquarters dictate this. How many authorized staffing positions and security posts are allowed and is the quote from spokesperson Lampell accurate?

She said, "We answer those questions to the satisfaction of the budget committee member before any budget is passed. We deeply resent the implication that the leadership of DPSCS would falsify any documentation transmitted to the General Assembly."

In my humble opinion, based on documents gathered by our team, MCI-H was wrong-sized, to "right-size" an increase in the DOC Secretary's office from 143 positions to 154, costing taxpayers $2.2 million. And DOC headquarters staffing positions went from from 87 to 105. These 18 positions cost taxpayers $1.2 million. Now did they cost taxpayers extra or were those funds diverted from elsewhere in the system?




Elaine Gladhill, a former employee of the state prison system, is a resident of Waynesboro, Pa.

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