Staffing shortage leaves North Dakota Department of Corrections "in one of the worst positions" in 20 years

(Fargo, ND) -- The labor shortage is putting a squeeze on North Dakota's prisons and other correctional facilities. 

"We've got a lot of people working a lot of overtime, a lot of officers that are working double shifts. Just as one example, we had one gentleman work 55 shifts in a 60 day period. It's not only every day but we've got some people working nearly every day and working 16 hours a day," said Travis Engelhardt, Director of Human Resources for the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Engelhardt says the overall percentage of jobs currently unfilled in the state corrections system is about ten percent, out of a total workforce of about one thousand employees. That includes about 60 to 70 vacant correctional officer positions between James River Correctional Center and the North Dakota State Penitentiary. 

Engelhardt says the labor shortage has left his agency in one of the "worst positions" they've been in over the last 20 years. The Director of Human Resources also says the number of applications they receive for open positions is down 80 percent from 2015. 

Starting pay for a corrections officer without experience is $18.80 per hour. Englehardt says it's possible state lawmakers consider higher pay for for officers during the upcoming legislative session. 

Original Air Date: 
Monday, October 3, 2022