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Corrections

Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Shannon Wilson

Shannon Wilson is today’s stand-out Colorado state employee. She’s a medical records technician at Trinidad Correctional Facility — and a whole lot more.

 

Shannon Wilson is a medical records technician at Trinidad Correctional Facility — and a whole lot more.

Shannon Wilson, Department of Corrections

A Colorado State Employee Going Above and Beyond

“When she’s gone, we recognize she’s gone,” said co-worker Pauline Boyd when interviewed about why she nominated Shannon for a state employee shout-out.

That’s because Shannon doesn’t just perform duties of a medical records technician for which she’s paid. Her job classification is one of the lowest paid positions in the Department of Corrections, but she also helps by doing additional work to assist nurses and make their jobs easier, since the facility is not fully staffed.

“What makes her so amazing is that she still comes to work every day with a smile on her face and does an amazing job,” continued Boyd. “Although she literally doesn’t get paid for it.”

In fact, Shannon is effectively performing the duties of four positions.

She helps ensure that providers have what they need to care for offenders experiencing health issues. And, because of her efforts, people leaving incarceration are better prepared to continue any medical care they might need.

“The biggest challenge I face is time. Because of all of the extra duties that I do,” said Wilson. “If I’m not there to do my job, then the nurses have a hard time treating people. I’m constantly stopping and going and doing ten other times.”

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Last year, one in five authorized state positions remained vacant, with a vacancy rate of more than one in 10 positions within the Department of Corrections last summer. That understaffing overwhelms state workers and undermines our ability to serve Colorado.

 

State employees are stronger when we stand together. Please join Colorado WINS and help advocate for workers like Shawnee — and you.

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Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Shawnee Lorimore

Today’s online shout-out goes to Shawnee Lorimore. Shawnee works for the Department of Corrections as a culinary instructor at Trinidad Correctional Facility.

 

Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Shawnee Lorimore 

“I’m really popular because I feed everybody,” Shawnee joked recently.

At the end of the day, Shawnee is preparing much more than food, though. She’s teaching vital life and jobs skills that help reduce criminal recidivism by enabling offenders become more successful and productive members of the community.

“She brings out the best in these guys and she brings out the best in all of us,” Shawnee’s colleague Pauline Boyd explained.

A Colorado State Employee Making a Difference

Trinidad is not the state’s largest correctional facility. Nonetheless, Shawnee’s program had some of the highest culinary program completions in Colorado’s Department of Corrections.

Shawnee’s impact isn’t just a question of numbers either.

Once, a long-absent father preparing to be paroled wanted Shawnee to teach him to cook for his family. He’d been incarcerated for much of his children’s lives and was going to be a single father.

“He wanted to be able to establish a home — and food had always been at the center of his family,” Shawnee remembered. “Those moments are priceless.”

Proud to Serve Colorado

For people like Shawnee, working for the state is more than just a job:

“I am so proud to be an employee of the state and work for the Department of Corrections,” Shawnee said. “Working for DOC isn’t a glamorous job, but I am so proud of what I do.”

Shawnee is just one of nearly 29,000 state employees in Colorado, dedicated workers who provide vital public services every hour of the day and every day of the year. The Department of Corrections alone helped 1,110 people complete programs to promote successful community reintegration and reduce criminal recidivism.

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Despite the contributions of hardworking people like Shawnee, state employee pay has lagged even as the cost of housing, healthcare and other essentials has skyrocketed in the state.

As a result, the Department of Corrections and other agencies and departments face increasing staff turnover and chronic understaffing that undermine public employees and the services we provide.

 

State employees are stronger when we stand together. Please join Colorado WINS and help advocate for workers like Shawnee — and you.

Join the Union


 

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Colorado State Employee Spotlight: Eric Olsen

Today’s Colorado State Employee Spotlight is Eric Olsen, a corrections officer at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center. Eric is a fierce advocate for his co-workers and for safer conditions for employees and inmates at Colorado’s corrections facilities.

State Employee Spotlight: Eric Olsen, DOC

An Advocate for State Employees and Safety

Dealing with understaffing, forced overtime and the difficult job conditions that come with them can be exhausting for officers like Olsen. Olsen told Denver7 earlier this year, “If you have someone working a 16-hour shift, when they get on the road, it’s not safe for the public.”

Eric isn’t the only office impacted by understaffing. The Department of Corrections — along with the state Human Services and Transportation Departments — experiences some of the highest employee turnover rates among state agencies.

Colorado WINS’ Vision for State Employees

Colorado WINS believes that state employees deserve respect, dignity — and the power to improve address issues like understaffing that threaten the staff and inmates of our correctional facilities. With the freedom to collectively bargain and a stronger voice on the job, we can make it happen.

 

State employees are stronger when we stand together. Please join Colorado WINS and help advocate for workers — and you.

Join the Union

 


 

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Mental and physical toll of work on America’s Correctional Officers

This is hardly news to Correctional Officers, but the occupational stress of working in prisons reduces life expectancy, increases heart disease, and manifests itself in higher rates of alcoholism and divorce rates. 

Below you’ll find links and excerpts of articles detailing the consequences of job stress in Correctional Officers.  (more…)

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Parole: Update on AR 100-39

Last week, four Parole Officers from across the state and WINS Field Director Hilary Glasgow met with Parole Director Melissa Roberts, Prisons Director Travis Trani, Chief HR officer Rick Thompkins and DOC Inspector General Jay Kirby to discuss, among other things, the changes to AR 100-39. 

If you want more details about the meeting and other Parole updates, contact Hilary Glasgow to find out how to join a conference call on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm.

In October, Parole officers reached out to Colorado WINS with their concerns about the AR, which did not discern Parole Officers from other officers within DOC.  This prompted fears of loss of protections and created the opening to deprofessionalize Parole Officers. 

In last week’s meeting, DOC executive staff said they adjusted the draft to better define and separate Parole Officers from other employees in DOC. Management read changes from their copy, which was not given to the WINS negotiating team, and Parole officers in attendance agreed that the newly adjust document addressed the concerns of WINS Parole members. The executive team said they adjusted the AR a few weeks back but wanted to meet with WINS members before releasing the new draft to make sure nothing was overlooked.

However, when the second draft of AR 100-39 came out, it didn’t spell out the difference between Parole Officers and Corrections Officers as described in the meeting. We will continue to push back on this issue to ensure there is a clear distinction for Parole Officers in the AR.

Cars, Guns, and Back Taxes

On Monday, The Denver Post published an article which detailed an internal state audit that found a large number of state employees may owe back taxes for driving a department car to commute to and from work.

WINS Executive Director Tim Markham has been in talks with Dept. of Personnel and Administration (DPA) and the Governor’s office and is advocating that state employees be held harmless for the state’s mistake. So far, all we know that the matters will be handled by each department individually (not through DPA), and will not be addressed until at least Spring of 2017.

For more updates about AR 100-39, the personal use of state vehicles and other Parole issues, contact Hilary Glasgow to find out how to join a conference call on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6 pm.

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Colorado WINS statement on CCA’s Burlington prison closure

Colorado WINS has long advocated for the state disengaging from the private prison industry. It’s a morally indefensible industry and we shouldn’t use tax dollars to prop up parasitic business models.

These rural communities were sold a bill of goods: the prisons provide minimal jobs, with very low pay and dangerous working conditions. Hopefully some of the money saved from paying CCA is reinvested in real economic development for rural Colorado.

 

 

Read the Denver Post story here.

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State employees held harmless in worst budget in years

With last week’s passage of the Colorado state budget, state employees will maintain wage gains made over the past three years and see no increase in their health insurance premiums.

In a year when nearly every budget item faced cuts, Colorado WINS members were able to stave off any reductions to the paychecks of their coworkers. 

In fact, we were able to hold the line on several proposals, including: full funding for Health/Life/Dental premiums, full funding for the state’s PERA contributions and keep $1 million in funding for staffing at the Dept. of Youth Corrections. 

As I’ve explained in previous emails, although state workers did not receive a raise this year, lack of cuts means that state workers have fared fairly well in a bleak budget year threatened by mandatory TABOR spending.

On a brighter note, although there was no state-issued raise this year, members organized to put pressure on University of Colorado Boulder administration and as a result nearly 500 low-wage CU-Boulder employees received a raise in February. So even in years when the state budget is bleak, members who organize and work together can still achieve wage victories.

 

Other news from the Capitol

While some members of the legislature threatened to cut nearly 100 positions from the state payroll by dismantling the Clean Air program, we successfully lobbied to keep the program and the positions fully funded.

One of the last amendments to make it into the budget gave $3 million to for-profit prison operator Corrections Corporation of America. Colorado WINS has long been opposed to our state doing business with a corporation that profits from incarceration. Now, in addition to our continued moral objections, we have released a statement denouncing the last minute bailout of CCA.

Below is the full statement:

“The for-profit prison industry is built on exploitation. They exploit our criminal justice system, they exploit their workers, they exploit the communities in which their facilities are located and they exploit Colorado taxpayers.

Unlike our state correctional facilities and professional correctional officers, for-profit prisons are not accountable to taxpayers. And they do not provide stable, community-building jobs – these are low-wage, low-security, high-turnover positions.

Colorado WINS has long stood publicly against the for-profit prison industry. This latest bailout is just one more example of why Colorado should extricate ourselves from this predatory and morally corrupt industry.”

We are still waiting to see what will happen with HB 16-1420, which deals with the Hospital Provider Fee. This bill has been a priority for Colorado WINS and we may need to take action to ensure this bill passes before the session ends next month.

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Press Release: Colorado WINS opposes subsidizing for-profit prisons

In light of a last-minute revision to Colorado’s state budget that hands $3 million to for-profit prison operator to Corrections Corporation of America to keep open its Kit Carson Correctional Center in eastern Colorado, Colorado WINS has released the following statement:

The for-profit prison industry is built on exploitation. They exploit our criminal justice system, they exploit their workers, they exploit the communities in which their facilities are located and they exploit Colorado taxpayers.

Unlike our state correctional facilities and professional correctional officers, for-profit prisons are not accountable to taxpayers. And they do not provide stable, community-building jobs – these are low-wage, low-security, high-turnover positions.

Colorado WINS has long stood publicly against the for-profit prison industry. This latest bailout is just one more example of why Colorado should extricate ourselves from this predatory and morally corrupt industry.

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In the news: Parole officers’ insight is important to policy decisions

Denver Post, April 2, 2016 | Parole officers’ insight is important to policy decisions

Re: “Colorado has reduced its prison population, but at what cost to public safety?,” March 20 news story; and “Prisoner reform shouldn’t take precedence over public safety,” March 22 editorial.

As the union that represents Colorado’s parole officers, we were alarmed and concerned with The Post’s news article and editorial about the unintended consequences of reforms at the Department of Corrections. The governor’s call for a review of parole policies is a welcome sign.

A partnership between management and parole officers will be critical to the success of this review. Our parole officers have a common interest with the Department of Corrections management: public safety. The insight and experience of frontline parole officers, who work with and monitor offenders on a daily basis, must be taken into account when making policy decisions that affect not only their jobs but also our community as a whole (more…)

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Official comments on DOC AR 1450-1 changes

Colorado WINS has submitted an official comment about the changing of Administrative Regulation 1450, currently up for review. The full text of the comment is below.

To whom it may concern,

We are submitting our official comments regarding proposed amendments to DOC Administrative Regulation 1450-01, currently up for review before implementation.

We request that all changes to AR1450-01 be placed on hold at this time. Given the importance of AR1450-01 to the day-to-day functioning of the department, the large number of changes proposed, and the lack of DOC staff input, this is the proper course of action.

These policy changes fall under the purview of the Governor’s Partnership Executive Order with DOC and as such these and all other new policies and policy changes should include Colorado WINS members, as representatives of the DOC classified staff, in the process of creation, amendment and implementation of policies.

Sincerely,
Colorado WINS CDOC Membership

If you have any questions or comments about the changes to AR 1450-01, please talk to your workplace Steward.

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