Texas agency using bonuses to hire prison guards

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Associated Press

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 6:32 PM

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Bonuses of $4,000 are being offered to boost recruitment of state corrections officers as Texas prisons contend with short staffs.

Prisons across the state are in need of guards but the situation is particularly acute in the Panhandle, where nearly 150 guards are needed to fill vacancies at three facilities, according to a report by the Amarillo Globe-News (http://bit.ly/1hC8UiT ).

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice recently announced the signing bonuses are being increased from $3,000 for those who sign one-year contracts. The department wants the new hires for rural prisons and areas where the agency competes for workers with the booming oil and gas industry.

"The agency is aggressively recruiting applicants not only for these units but for correctional facilities across the state," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark told the Globe-News. "The recruitment bonus is another tool the agency is using to attract applicants to apply for positions at units that are facing staffing challenges."

Full-time prison guards start with a salary of $29,220, which can rise to $38,880 after 7½ years.

There are 15 prisons offering the bonuses, including those near the Panhandle towns of Dalhart and Pampa. Dalhart has 205 authorized positions and 70 are open. The two units near Pampa have 234 combined positions and 79 openings, according to TDCJ.

Employees must repay the bonus — or a prorated amount, depending on how long they work — if they leave the job.

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Information from: Amarillo Globe-News, http://www.amarillo.com

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