The Department of Corrections presented their FY 2022 budget requests for consideration by the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday, February 4. The department has requested the restoration of funding approved during the 2020 General Session – including $4.8 million to fund the fourth step in the certified officer pay plan, as well as funding for additional agents and staff, department vehicles, and updated equipment.
“Looking specifically at the challenges we have, this is key to us being competitive in corrections and in law enforcement.” Corrections Deputy Director James Hudspeth explained how funding will help address the current recruitment and retention struggles the agency is facing. “Overtime has gone up over 50,000 hours [from FY17 to FY20] – Some staff have been required to work 16-hour shifts.”
“We’re also losing experience as we lose staff to other agencies.” Hudspeth continued, “We train [new officers] and then other agencies can come in and say ‘we’ll take you and we’ll pay you more money.'” Within the Division of Adult Probation & Parole, the average experience level for Utah agents has gone from 17.6 down to 10.3.
Numerous legislators expressed their support for the Department of Corrections and spoke to the importance of this funding request. The committee Co-Chair, Rep. Owens, added, “we’re putting all of this effort into getting our state-of-the-art [new prison facilities], we have to have the state-of-the-art support system of our staff.”
UPEA supports continued funding for the certified officer pay plan.