WTOC Investigates: Staffing numbers at Georgia state prisons

WTOC Investigates: Staffing numbers at Georgia state prisons
Source: WTOC

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Prison workers say critical understaffing in some of our country’s prisons is leading to dangerous environments.

WTOC investigated local jail staffing numbers, including at the Coastal State Prison in Chatham County, to see if we have a similar issue in our area.

WTOC asked the State of Georgia Department of Corrections for its most up to date list of every employee at Coastal State Prison, their title, their annual salary, the total number of vacancies, and the number of inmates.

As of Aug. 1, Coastal State Prison has a total of 276 employees and 62 job openings, meaning 81 percent of the jobs are filled. That leaves nearly 20 percent - or 1 in 5 - jobs vacant right now.

As far as salary goes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports states average pay for an officer is $41,600 a year.

We sorted the data and found 30 Coastal State Prison employees who made more than that. That means the 246 other employees make less than what breaks down to be $20 an hour.

The Department of Corrections sent an update to WTOC on its staffing numbers statement, saying there are currently 35 Correctional Officer vacancies at Coastal State Prison, or 18 percent of the total Correctional Officer staff.

There are more than 1,500 inmates at Coastal State Prison.

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