Missouri Struggling With Prison Guard Shortage

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Department of Correction continues to struggle with a staffing shortage across the state’s more than 20 prisons.

Documents filed with Gov. Eric Greitens’ budget office say the state’s prison system would have at least eight fewer workers beginning in July 2018 at a time when Missouri’s inmate population is expected to rise to more than 33,200.

The prison staffing shortage is causing a spike in overtime costs.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the department spent $9 million in overtime in 2015. That amount skyrocketed to $19 million last year and currently sits at nearly $7 million through the first five months of this fiscal year.

Corrections officials say the department is working to recruit workers by lowering the minimum qualifying age for an officer from 21 to 19.

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