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Md. prisons chief says DOC is still hiring despite budget cuts

October 24, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Although The Board of Public Works approved an Oct. 15 proposal to eliminate 100 vacant positions for correctional officers and correctional supply officers at a savings of $2.9 million, the Division of Correction still will be hiring, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary Maynard said Wednesday.

In fact, the DOC is "upping recruiting efforts," Maynard said.

The Division of Correction had 400 vacant positions including the 100 that won't be filled, so there still are about 300 positions to fill across the state, DOC Commissioner Michael Stouffer said Wednesday during a meeting with reporters and editors at The Herald-Mail.

Currently, there only are four such vacancies in Hagerstown, so more than 99 percent of positions at the three prisons south of Hagerstown are filled, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman said Thursday.

Staffing numbers in the three institutions south of Hagerstown are reasonable again, Stouffer said.

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Officials are ramping up recruitment efforts to keep positions filled when they are vacated, department spokesman Rick Binetti said Thursday. Prison officials want to build a good pool of candidates to pull from, he said.

"Any vacancy in Hagerstown, we're going to fill it," Maynard said Wednesday.

Most of the positions that were cut were going to staff a housing unit at North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland that hasn't been filled yet, prison officials said.

In addition, all those correctional officers living in Cumberland but working in Hagerstown who had been on a transfer list that guaranteed a transfer to Cumberland are now working in Cumberland, Stouffer and Maynard said.

While there is now no written list guaranteeing newly hired officers that same transfer privilege, prison officials still intend to orchestrate positions so that, when possible, "those living in Cumberland are working in Cumberland and those living in Hagerstown are working in Hagerstown," Maynard said.

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