Page 12 - Work Force July-August 2021
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jail staffing
MONTICELLO — CSEA members working at the Sullivan County Jail can’t catch a break.
That’s not a figurative statement. Chronic understaffing has reached a crisis level over the past year, with days off being few and far between, vacation requests being denied and mandated overtime becoming the norm.
It’s a vicious cycle that puts both officers and inmates at risk. CSEA Southern Region President Anthony Adamo recently issued a public call for officer recruitment to become a top priority for the jail administration.
“The jail administration needs to commit to both a proactive external recruitment campaign to bring new officers in and an effort to improve employee morale to prevent existing officers from leaving,” said Adamo. “Our members have done the best they can to power through the last year, when they were dealing with COVID and moving to a new jail,
Sullivan County Jail Unit members that work the evening shift.
   Sullivan County Jail Unit members that work the day shift.
12 The Work Force
July-August 2021
but enough is enough. Because jail officers aren’t as visible as other law enforcement, this staffing crisis hasn’t been treated
transfers to either the county’s road patrol or a different agency. Others have gotten so frustrated on the job that they’ve left law enforcement behind or quit without another job lined up. COVID quarantines have created an added strain.
“We’ve lost over a dozen people since December,” said Wagner.
The officers left behind, Wagner said, have suffered the effects of that exodus. When an officer arrives at the jail for a regular shift, chances
are good that they will be held over for an additional eight hours.
At the end of that double shift, officers have to head home for a few hours of sleep before reporting back to the jail the next day, facing the same scenario. That reality is often worse for female officers, as the jail’s women’s unit is required to have a female officer present, leading to even more mandating.
While the jail has already exceeded the amount of money budgeted for overtime this year, many in the county prefer to lean on existing officers for overtime rather than hire additional staff, which requires the county to pay for health insurance and other benefits.
That’s not an acceptable long-term solution, said Adamo.
“Constant overtime and the sleep deprivation that goes along with
it has been proven to be harmful
to workers’ physical and mental health,” said Adamo. “Worker burnout puts everyone at risk. This is a tough job even in the best-staffed facility. If the jail administration invests in the recruiting process and succeeds in bringing in and keeping more staff, everyone will benefit.”
— Jessica Ladlee
with the seriousness it deserves.”
CSEA Sullivan County Jail Unit President John Wagner said the worker exodus is in part due to retirements and

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