Wednesday September 10, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson today said a new Corrections class will begin training later this month to help offset increasing vacancies at the jail, due in part to the extended active duty of a number of officers serving in the armed forces.
The new class of 20 will begin training on Sept. 19. The training program will last 10 weeks. “Currently, we have 57 budgeted vacancies in Corrections,” Abramson said this morning. “Nearly half of those vacancies are the result of corrections officers being called up for military service.”
Other vacancies, Abramson said, are largely the result of retirements or officers leaving Corrections for other jobs.
Abramson added that to ensure the Corrections Department has adequate numbers of jail officers, a second corrections class will probably begin later this year.
“With the likelihood that many of these reservists may continue to be needed for an extended period of time, we need reinforcements at home to help run our jail,” Abramson said.
Abramson noted that an independent audit released last month noted that there were “no issues that raise constitutional or life safety issues.” Abramson said the jail serves the basic needs of the community, and “I’m committed to keeping it that way.”
However, the audit did recommend a number of changes to move the jail forward and ensure that “best practices” standards are followed to reach national accreditation.
To that end, Abramson said his recently appointed Corrections Transition team met for the first time this morning. The team, chaired by Deputy Mayor William Summers IV and Cabinet for Public Protection Secretary Kim Allen, is reviewing “best practices” guidelines from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute for Corrections.
The task force, Abramson said, also is working to develop a schedule to hear from agencies and groups with a vested interest in jail operations. Groups will include unions, the police and sheriff’s offices, the offices of the county attorney and commonwealth’s attorney, the Justice Resource Center and others. Abramson said that while there is no timetable for naming a corrections department leader or for interviews, there already have been several expressions of interest in the position from outside the community.