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State announces major pay increases for correctional officers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Correctional officer trainees at the state’s maximum security prisons will now earn $55,855 a year under a new pay scale the Alabama Department of Corrections announced this week. 

Starting pay for officer trainees at medium security facilities will be $53,245; work release and community work center trainees will earn $50,712, the ADOC said in a written statement. The new salaries are now advertised on ADOC’s employment website.

Under a years-long federal court order to increase staffing at crowded and dangerous prisons, ADOC Commissioner John Hamm last month told lawmakers the department was still struggling to hire needed staff and was short about 688 correctional officers. It would contract with an outside agency for staffing help. 

Under the pay increase plan announced this week, current correctional officers will also receive pay grade and salary increases. The department is also expanding location differentials for medium and maximum-security facilities to include support staff and correctional officers.

Information on how much the increases will cost the department was not made available. The raise in pay for trainees is substantial, with trainees previously earning about $35,000 to $38,000, depending on their education level. 

The State Personnel Board and Gov. Kay Ivey approved the salary increases in February.

The ADOC said the pay hikes are a step to strengthen its retention and recruiting efforts. 

“While I am proud of our successes so far, they represent the beginning of an ambitious agenda,” Hamm said in a written statement. “Some of the projects we have prioritized, but are not limited to, are building new prison facilities, implementing a modern inmate management system, streamlining the correctional officer hiring, retention, and training processes, and actively supporting the reinstatement of Tier 1 retirement benefits for all employees.” 

Tier I benefits are the most generous the state offers.

Earlier this year, Hamm requested $726 million in state General Fund support in fiscal 2024, an increase from $659.4 million in state funding this year. He said some of those increases are court-ordered, including $37 million in increased medical care and $9.5 million in Americans with Disabilities Act-related improvements at several existing facilities.

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