Correction Department seeks 8 pct. budget hike

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Correction is seeking an increase of 8 percent in its budget for the next fiscal year to be used in large part to fund pay raises and add new positions.

Appearing before budget officials Monday, representatives of the agency detailed the request to grow the General Fund allocation from $308.1 million to $333.5 million.

The agency’s staffing shortage has been highlighted since Feb. 1, when inmates in the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center seized control of Building C, taking several correctional officers and a counselor hostage.

When authorities breached the facility 19 hours later, Lt. Steven Floyd was found dead.

Since then, officials have made steps to increase the number of correctional officers, purchase more security cameras and raise starting salaries for officers.

Annual pay for a starting CO increased from about $36,000 to $40,000 this fiscal year and will rise again to $43,000 on July 1. The Department of Correction is still in the process of adding cameras and officers.

The agency graduated seven cadets from the Basic Officer Training Course two weeks ago.

“There is some attrition, so officers leave and we hire new staff. We have new staff graduating all the time,” Acting Commissioner Alan Grinstead said.

Normally the deputy commissioner, Mr. Grinstead is filling in for Commissioner Perry Phelps, who has been on leave for several weeks with an undisclosed medical issue and may not return until 2018.

Correction and budget officials also heard from probation and parole officers, who expressed displeasure with their salaries. Probation and parole officers did not receive an increase in pay this summer and, according to Todd Mumford, president of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police Probation/Parole Lodge 10, morale is low as a result.

“We’re not asking for anything special. We’re just asking for equity,” Mr. Mumford said.

Mr. Grinstead said their concerns were legitimate and the state is working to negotiate a deal with them.

Today represents the final day of budget hearings. Gov. John Carney will craft his recommendations over the next two months based on the agency requests and the revenue projections.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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