Senate approves Argall study to review corrections overtime issue

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HARRISBURG – The Senate gave its approval to study mandatory overtime within the Department of Corrections, according to measure’s prime sponsor, Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks).

Senate Resolution 263 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to compile a study within six months to review costs associated with mandatory overtime for corrections officers. The study is to look at the cost to hire, train and equip new corrections officers versus paying overtime to existing corrections officers.

Argall said that the issue is both a public safety concern as well as a morale problem.

“Mandatory overtime places added physical, mental and emotional strain on corrections officers,” Argall said. “This study should give us a better understanding of why overtime costs continue to soar while the inmate population declines.”

During the recent state budget hearings with the Senate Appropriations Committee, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel noted that overtime costs for the department continues to hover around $90 million annually.

“The Department of Corrections continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of the state budget. I’m hopeful we can work on the overtime issue to ensure corrections officers are not overburdened with excruciating overtime mandates,” Argall said.

The department led all other state agencies in overtime spending from 2010 through 2014.

The Department of Corrections receives the third largest state appropriation from the General Fund compared to all state agencies.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee is required to have their report completed in six months.