Justice Reform

Addressing Staffing Crisis in Prisons and Jails

Understaffing of jails and prisons is a major issue many states are facing. An article published by the Justice Center, The Council of State Governments, highlights these staffing shortages. Prison guards are being worn down as many of them have to work overtime and double shifts. This influences their health and cognitive ability to properly do their jobs, ultimately affecting the way prisoners are treated and supervised. One high-profile case that brought up the issue of understaffing in prisons, was Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in a Manhattan prison. The night of his death, the two prison guards were working overtime because one was required to do so and the other volunteered to for extra pay. 

Prisons have a hard time recruiting guards as it is a taxing job, one that can result in harm and usually has a lower salary; all which can steer people away from applying for the job. Because of these factors, prisons are suffering greatly to recruit prison guards and fill these positions. Prisons are trying to come up with creative ways to recruit and make the benefits more enticing. They are starting to recruit through social media, increasing salaries, taking donations, improving staff training and adding staff wellness initiatives. In addition, prisons and jails are trying to reduce overcrowding by taking less inmates in the hopes of not overwhelming guards. 

It is crucial that the under staffing of jails and prisons be addressed. It poses a threat to all inmates as guards can be short tempered and worn down, which places everyone involved in their line of duty, including themselves, at risk. With more guards able to control the situation, inmates receive better care and prison violence can be reduced.