MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - The Madison County Metro Jail has hired and trained 18 new corrections officers this year. The jail is funded by the County Commission to have 175 correction supervisors but administrators say the jail is rarely fully staffed.
Jail administrators say it's always their priority to keep a full staff in the jail, but it's been years since that has happened. They say there are various reasons for the revolving door cycle of hiring corrections officers.
Madison County Chief of Corrections Chad Brooks says all of the jail's operational best practices boil down to safety.
"When it comes to staffing, it's of critical importance," says Chief of Corrections Chad Brooks.
If the jail were fully staffed with 175 correction officers, the inmate officer ratio would be around 25 inmates per officer. That's currently not the case.
"As it stands right now today we could hire 22 corrections officers with just the positions we have been unable to fill so far," says Brooks.
The current ratio is about 35 to 40 inmates per officer. Brooks says the county can do better.
"We can never compromise our mandatory minimums. In order to promote safety in the facility we are going to staff it by any means necessary," says Brooks.
With the inability to recruit and hire, they've relied on overtime.
"Some of our corrections officers have volunteered to work in excess of 100 hours per two-week pay period. Some up to 130 or even 140," says Brooks.
Brooks says while that is a testament to their dedication, it's unsustainable for both the employee and the counties finances.
"It has cost the county literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime in what is, should be, unnecessary expenditures in overtime," says Brooks.
Hiring 18 officers this year has reduced overtime costs by around 60 percent.
The county also did a comprehensive task analysis to make sure the jail is getting the most out of the hours they are paying employees to work.