Kansas prisons struggling to recruit correctional officers

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Prisons across the state have opened their doors looking for their next batch of correctional officers.

Christina Peach, Hutchinson Correctional Facility HR Director said, “"right now we are over 52 positions down."

And from the looks of this empty room this job fair at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility isn't attracting any candidates. She said, "I think overall it's a culture that we live in. I think it's people not understanding what corrections really is."

While the Kansas Department of Corrections admits that this can be a dangerous job. They tell me that TV shows have cast a negative light on what these officers do and it has hurt recruitment efforts. She said, "there are tons of TV shows that are out there and say this is what it is. Lockup and TV shows like that they show kind of a negative view and it can be a negative environment."

Prisons across the state are having problems recruiting employees. Staff shortages can create dangerous situations behind bars. Even local police and sheriff’s departments are struggling to find workers.

Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson says he’s grateful his department is fully staffed but others aren’t so lucky. He said, "most law enforcement agencies are down many, many officers. It's not only the danger effect but it's the attitude of the public to work in law enforcement."

While agencies like Hutchinson Correctional Facility make do with the officers it has, many are having to work overtime to meet the needs there. Peach said, "they pitch in, they help out, we get this taken care of because at the end of the evening we just want everyone to go home to their families, we want the inmates to be safe. We want the public to be safe."

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