DOC Ends VOBO Offers

Additional VOBO offers within the Department of Corrections have increased apprehension among employees as the budget continues to advance closer to home. OPEA has been informed that the additional offers are over.

The DOC initially was approved for 180 VOBO positions by the Office of State Finance during the first round during the summer and fall of 2009. The department only approved 119 positions leaving a total of 61 positions that could be utilized for another round of offers.

“The work of OPEA with Director Justin Jones and key legislators yielded $7.2 million in supplemental appropriations,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “That took the furloughs off the table, but the agency needs to make up an additional $4.1 million from the second round of 5% budget cuts to make it through the year.”

According to sources within DOC, the agency returned to the VOBO’s making additional offers for positions the department was eliminating in several program areas. “The library technician III position, Votech Instructor position as well as some in the sex offender treatment program were also eliminated,” said Zearley. “The agency is downsizing or eliminating programs like Lifeline and others which cannot be supported with the current cuts. Other positions in senior administration that were retirement eligible were also encouraged to take advantage of the VOBO’s. The Superintendent of Schools as well as some Wardens are feeling the effects.”

OPEA members have been expressing their concerns as the budget problems hit home. “OPEA is working with Representatives Terrill, Billy, Miller, and Senators Sykes, Myers and Johnson as additional budget problems arise. OPEA is urging additional cuts to private prisons contracts as well as closing or consolidation of offices to protect frontline jobs,” said Zearley. “OPEA members are at the top of our list when it comes to saving jobs, so if you’re not a member, we urge you to join today.”

OPEA is concerned that the current situation moves corrections into a simple warehousing model. “Managing inmate behaviors depends upon having the staffing levels as well as the programming/activities to help incentivize good behaviors,” said Zearley. “With the reductions we are currently experiencing, DOC will be simply warehousing these inmates and nothing more.”

OPEA is also concerned with additional cuts. “The department is still not out of the woods,” cautioned Zearley. “Final confirmation of the budget for the next fiscal has yet to be discussed so DOC employees are best served by getting behind OPEA and standing strong.”

Related News