Officers at a Dallas County Jail in Texas continue to protest against working 16-hour shifts for several days in a row to an ongoing labor shortage.
According to an insider report last Thursday, officers said that jail staffers had been quitting their jobs and that jail was really struggling to find replacements.
The Dallas Observer noted that some of these officers were being strained past their breaking point, with some of them having to work these draconian shifts for five days in a row or more. Moreover, some of them didn’t even know they were going to work another eight-hour shift before quitting time.
Because the conditions continue to deteriorate, many of these jail guards are now protesting these ridiculous hours on the steps of the Frank Crowley Courthouse.
It was during the protest that the officers also pointed out that their jail had been struggling to maintain adequate staffing for a number of years before the COVID-19 pandemic was even on the horizon, and that this worldwide sickness had exacerbated the situation tremendously.
One officer said that they were having a difficult time finding replacements for those who were retiring or leaving for a different profession. Another officer complained that she had actually caught COVID-19 at her place of employment.
“I brought it home,” she told KXAS. “The inmates aren’t being made to wear masks, but we are. … No one wants to work in these conditions. We all like to go home and be with our families.”
Another officer added, “We just want to let everybody know we’re doing our jobs, but we’re not robots. We can’t continue to work three or four days of overtime.”
What Else Should We Know About This?
A spokesperson for the jail told KXAS-TV that there were times where the facility had to mandate overtime so that they could meet their requirements for staffing.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price told the station that the state regulations stipulate that the Dallas County Jail will need at least one on-duty detention officer per every 48 inmates.
Monday evening’s count showed that the jail had 5,976 inmates.
“We have to be in compliance and sometimes that means you have to be mandated if we don’t get enough volunteers,” Price said. One thing that exacerbates the situation is that many of the jail’s detention officers had to be put on leave, with a dramatic increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, about 1,450 detention officers at this particular jail had been put on leave.
“I’m not going to lay it all on COVID,” Price said. “Granted, it has been amplified because of COVID.”
n a statement, Sheriff Marian Brown said, “Managing the county jail requires adherence to state regulatory staffing numbers. Currently, because we have vacancies, we must utilize overtime to remain in compliance. We continue to work to get to a point where overtime is not a necessity.”