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Idaho offers higher pay to get, retain correctional officers

New correctional officers will receive $19 an hour, up from the previous $16.75. New hires will also get a $1,500 bonus.

BOISE, Idaho — State officials are boosting pay and offering bonuses to try to get and keep correctional officers. 

The Idaho Department of Correction says 24% of its correctional officer positions were vacant last month, including 190 vacancies at its prisons in Kuna. 

New correctional officers will receive $19 an hour, up from the previous $16.75. New hires will also get a $1,500 bonus and be eligible for a $1,500 yearly retention bonus during their first five years. 

Current employees will see hourly raises ranging from $.75 for wardens to $2.25 for correctional officers starting Sept. 5. 

The news comes less than two months after a board meeting revealed correctional officers were overworked, understaffed and underpaid.

"The impacts are felt across the board and first and foremost it's our staff that are bearing the brunt of it," IDOC's Deputy Director Bree Derrick told KTVB on Wednesday. "They are working extra hours and in some cases they're working 12- or 16-hour shifts and we're asking them to miss events with their families... and that's really heartbreaking."

Since the department announced the pay increase, Derrick said they have seen interest increase. While it hasn't translated into the number of new hires just yet, she added that they were previously seeing fewer than 10 people a week signing up. Since the pay raise was announced, she said they've had more than 40 people sign up in the past week and a half in the Treasure Valley alone.  

"Being at 75% positions filled is really low for us in recent history and it's very concerning so we knew we had to do more to make the job more attractive and I think the pay is a huge piece of that because we understand especially here in the Treasure Valley, housing costs and other cost of living have skyrocketed a lot of people want to move to Idaho, so we have to be paying a competitive wage to attract and retain the right kind of candidate for this work," Derrick said.

On Oct. 15, all current correctional officers will receive a one-time retention bonus of $1,500.

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