LANSING, Mich. — There are worker shortages in just about every industry these days and Michigan’s prison system isn’t immune– a new bill aims to change that by allowing recently retired corrections officers to return to the job temporarily.
“We're slowly bringing the overall number down of vacancies, which is about 800 ish right now," said Chris Gautz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections.
That high number of vacancies means that the officers currently on the job often have to do mandatory overtime to cover shifts.
“When you're mandated to stay and can't leave, that can be very stressful. So we want to do everything we can to relieve that stress and that burden from our staff," he said.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Julie Alexander would amend the State Employees’ Retirement Act and allow retired corrections officers to come back to the job and relieve some of the stress on the system. Gautz tells me a similar bill was put into place about eight years ago and only about 30 officers or so came back.
“We don't see a huge rush of retirees wanting to come back typically, because, like I said, this job is very difficult. It can be very stressful," Gautz said. "But any help certainly is warranted. And we look forward to seeing if this were to be signed into law, the potential help that it could provide to some of our facilities.”
The bill passed in the Michigan house and next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review.