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State nears goal of hiring 1,000 corrections officers

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Corrections is on target to meet its goal of hiring 700 to 1,000 corrections officers this year.

With 686 officers who’ve passed through the department’s 16-week training academy, and another class of 300 set to graduate on Nov. 6, that would bring the total to 986 for the year. MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz attributed that recruiting success to advertising via billboards and radio ads, the first time the department has used such means to recruit.

There are standards, of course. Applicants need to be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They need to have taken either 15 credit hours in corrections, criminal justice, psychology, sociology or a number of other disciplines, or have 30 college credits in any area of study, or a bachelor’s degree, or two years of “satisfactory employment” in corrections at the state or federal level. Military veterans may be already qualified.

There are also exemptions. No one convicted of a felony or a domestic violence charge can be hired. The department also can’t hire people with drug convictions, with a personal protection order against them, with outstanding warrants or on misdemeanor probation.

When Michigan was in the throes of the tough-on-crime 1980s, it hired many of the corrections officers who are retiring today at a rate of 70 per month, Gautz said. Between retirements and promotions, and the costs associated with offering overtime to veteran staffers, opportunities for entry level positions are available. There is not yet a start date for the next class.

Training to become a corrections officer entails eight weeks of classroom work and physical training. After that, the trainee goes to the facility they’ll be hired in at, and shadows a veteran corrections officer for another eight weeks. Pay scales start at $16.32 an hour, and there are often overtime opportunities, Gautz said.

Michigan has about 6,800 corrections officers right now.

Those interested in applying should go online to the corrections department’s website.

jdickson@detroitnews.com