In the news: Rough week for DOC

You may have seen the Department of Corrections pop up in the news these past few days, we certainly did. The Denver Post has published two stories detailing some questionable practices by the department.

The first story concerned a $280,000 settlement with a whistle-blower at DOC headquarters. These payouts can be disheartening to officers as they see money going out that could have been spent on making facilities safer. Even more concerning are the allegations against DOC. The former director of DOC’s Office of Planning and Analysis alleged the department was falsifying figures about the number of mentally ill people in solitary confinement and the number of inmates released from solitary directly back into their communities. She also alleged that DOC simply renamed programs they are trying to phase out in order for their numbers to match their reports.

The second story details the (more…)

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Colorado’s Parole Officers disillusioned with system, management

Today Colorado WINS is posting the complete results of the survey we conducted of Parole Officers in March. You can read the report below.

It is an an eye-opening read as it presents the unedited opinions of Parole Officers on a range of topics, including compensation, retention and treatment at work.

Now that we’ve made your issues heard it is time for us to get to work on finding and implementing solutions.

That’s not work we can do by ourselves – it will require us working in good faith through Partnership with the Division of Parole and the Department of Corrections. We also need to make sure that our membership remains strong to show our unity in tackling these issues.

This report is not the end of a process, but rather the beginning. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I am confident that working through Partnership with DOC we can arrive at solutions that address your issues, improve the Division and ensure public safety.

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DOC Partnership Team elections

Colorado WINS members in the Dept. of Corrections are are electing a Partnership Team to meet with DOC management to discuss issues throughout DOC in hopes of finding solutions that improve working conditions.

We are currently accepting nominations for the Partnership Team. To nominate yourself or others, please fill out the form here.

The Partnership Team will meet monthly and will consist of eight Colorado WINS representatives:

  • two positions will be officers from Canon City/Pueblo correctional facilities
  • two positions will be officers from outlying facilities (not Canon City or Pueblo)
  • two positions will be from parole and
  • two positions will be filled by specific non-security work groups (i.e. mental health, admin, food service, case manager, medical, teacher/librarian)

Nominations will continue through August 15 and elections will take place between Aug. 25 and Sept. 12.

Only Colorado WINS members can vote in elections, but you can join and vote the same day. Each member can vote only once, either in person or online.

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Changes to overtime payout in DOC

Last year, due to the hard work of our Corrections Members, the legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 210, which put an end to the 28-day work period and improved overtime pay for Corrections Officers (COs). This year, the Dept. of Corrections changed their interpretation of when overtime payment is due to COs.

DOC will now pay overtime after 8.5 hours, if you work 12 or more consecutive hours in one shift. Previously, DOC was paying overtime on hours worked in excess of 12 in a 24-hour period, when those hours accrued during non-consecutive shifts.

Despite this change, COs will still receive close to $2 million in overtime pay this fiscal year. That is $2 million worth of work they were not being paid for a year ago.

Here are the other details you need to know about SB 210 and your overtime rights in DOC.

  • The new 14-day work period is in effect and Corrections Officers will still receive overtime for any hours worked in excess of 85 during that 14-day work period.
  • COs will still receive overtime for working 12 or more consecutive hours.
  • COs will still be getting paid for overtime and will not be forced to take comp time.
  • Members will continue to work with DOC through partnership to implement a new timekeeping and scheduling system in order to ensure Correctional Officer safety as well as fairness in the system.


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JBC Members Respond to Senate GOP Letter

The leadership of the Joint Budget Committee took issue today with Republican calls to change the way the state conducts its salary surveys, specifically salaries in the Department of Corrections.

Prompted by a July 19 letter signed by the entire Senate Republican caucus accusing the Department of Personnel and Administration of ignoring law and best practice when conducting salary surveys of the state prison system, the JBC members sent a letter today to DPA Executive Director Kathy Nesbitt, backing the state’s salary survey process.

open-letter2If you’re a corrections officer, make sure you make your objections are also heard.

Sign your name to the Open Letter to Senate Republicans who want you to take a pay cut. Let them know that a career in corrections should not be treated like a minimum wage job.

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WINS Executive Board sends letter to Republican caucus

Last Friday, Colorado Senate Republicans sent a letter to DPA proposing to cut 4000 Colorado correctional officer salaries by 1/3 (approx $17K), reducing them to the level of 500 for-profit prison guards.

The Executive Board of Colorado WINS responded to the Republican caucus, defining their position on the issues brought forth, such as transparency and compensation.

Read the original letter here or the transcript below.

If you’re a corrections officer and would like to tell your senators that you deserve a raise, not a pay cut, add your name to the Open Letter to Senate Republicans.


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Colorado Senate GOP proposes slashing corrections pay by one third

In a letter to DPA Director Kathy Nesbitt from Friday, July 19, Colorado Senate Republicans took issue with the most recent salary survey, claiming that it was not properly conducted.

As an example, the 15 undersigned Senators propose that Colorado’s 4000 Corrections Officers should be paid approximately 33% less than their current average pay to match the average salary of for-profit prison employees.

Click here to read the original letter or read the transcript below.

Let us know what you think in the comments or sign your name to the Open Letter, asking Senate Republicans to withdraw their letter.


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Prison Utilization Study results released

Today, the Joint Budget Committee was presented with the results of the Prison Utilization Study, examining Colorado’s corrections system.

The report does not recommend immediate closures of any facilities. Instead, it ranks all facilities on a 3-tier system, with Tier III facilities being the lowest and those that may be considered for temporary or permanent closure depending upon long term population trends.

The report also debunks the myth that Colorado must continue to rely on for-profit prisons. For example, a cursory look at the data seems to show that Level III public facilities cost 36% more per diem than their counterpart privates ($74.15 vs. $54.35). However, the report shows that the difference in costs is largely attributable to the low staffing and low pay at the for-profit facilities.

The study also makes the point that reopening state beds is less expensive compared to private beds. For instance, it costs about $17 per diem to reopen a state bed, whereas the privates are all full freight (around $54/day). It’s clear from this report that state beds become the most cost effective solution.

To view the PowerPoint presentation from the JBC meeting, please click here.

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Pueblo Chieftain: Paycheck fairness for prison staff

Colorado WINS member and DOC employee Larry VanGelder’s guest editorial in The Pueblo Chieftain talks about the effects of Senate Bill 210 on the state’s Corrections Officers.

If you’re an employee in the Dept. of Corrections make sure to tell us how you think SB 210 will affect morale at your facility. Visit ColoradoWINS.org/sb210 and take the short, 2-minute survey.

After years of frustration, the Colorado legislature has finally done right by our corrections officers and fixed what’s known as the “28-day work period” by passing SB210. […]

SB210 improves overtime pay for officers working double shifts. Once an officer works the 12th hour, anything over 8.5 hours is compensated at time-and-a-half regardless whether or not you hit the 85-hour threshold. For example, if you work 13 consecutive hours, you would receive 4.5 hours of overtime. This is a huge relief to those of us who repeatedly work overtime and don’t see it reflected on our timecards or in our paychecks. […]

SB210 didn’t just happen. Our union, Colorado WINS, and our corrections officers made this happen.

After the bill was introduced, corrections officers from Pueblo, Canon City and Las Animas drove to Denver twice to testify in support of SB210. Personal testimony to the legislators about the unfairness of the 28-day work period made all the difference.

In the coming weeks and months, Colorado WINS will be at the table making sure that DOC gets the implementation of these changes right. I plan on taking the future into my own hands by talking to my co-workers, being an active part of my union and being an active part of those discussions.

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Governor signs SB 210

Senate Bill 210 was signed into law on May 24 by the Governor in a ceremony at the former Fort Lyon facility. In his remarks, the Governor thanked Colorado WINS and recognized we are working together in the same direction through difficult issues towards solutions.

Governor signing SB 210

Governor signing SB 210 with WINS member & DOC officer Alex Barnes on far right

Alex Barnes, a WINS member and officer at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, also spoke at the ceremony saying SB 210 means paycheck fairness for Department of Corrections’ officers who protect public safety.

Colorado correctional officers have for years dealt with inconsistency when it comes to overtime compensation because their profession is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers could be held over or work double shifts without getting overtime and with little accountability for hours actually worked.

For more details on Senate Bill 210, click here.

Sen. Giron with WINS members

Sen. Giron (center) with WINS member leaders at SB 210 signing

SB 210 was sponsored by Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo) and co-sponsored by Rep. Crisanta Duran (Denver) and both were champions in support of corrections officers. Sen. Giron put it so well “…these men and women number in the thousands and are an integral part of our local communities and economies. Their jobs are hard and dangerous. Our ultimate goal is to boost morale among Corrections officers, dignify their work with appropriate pay, and ensure the most accountability possible for taxpayers and state employees alike.”

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