Released Orangeburg inmate weighs in on correctional officer shortage

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Updated: Sep. 13, 2022 at 8:45 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - Orangeburg County Administrators are addressing concerns about a shortage of correctional officers at the County Jail. Right now the jail is down 30 to 40 correctional officers from what they would normally employ.

A County Administrator did not give the exact number of correctional officers but he did confirm the lack of manpower within the jail does make it difficult to control the inmates.

“They just don’t have no help to do nothing,” said Grover Smith a now former Inmate.

Grover Smith was recently released from the Orangeburg Jail and says he knows first-hand about the shortage of officers at the jail.

Smith says, “We don’t get rec like we supposed to, we don’t get showers like we supposed to,” said Smith.

And he’s seen how the lack in numbers of correctional officers could give inmates the upper hand.

“They don’t cooperate at all in there right now,” he said.

Smith tells me he’ll see a correctional officer for about an hour throughout the entire day, but Harold Young the county administrator, tells me the correctional officer shortage is statewide and other counties are competing when it comes to retaining those officers.

“But because of the surplus in state money that they had, they went up and offered 10 thousand dollars in recruitment bonuses for officers at the state level for detention centers. So, how can a small county like us match that when they’re offering 10 thousand dollars,” said Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young.

But Young says the county is trying to keep up. The county council just approved funding to increase sign-on bonuses to 3500, and the hourly wage has increased to 16 dollars and 49 cents which could be higher depending on your experience and more incentives have been added.

Young says, “Pay is competitive now, short-term, long-term disability, life insurance, paid holidays, annual sick leave, state retirements flexible spending accounts 401 k.”

And that list goes on. Young points to a lack of interest in the job from people in the community as well as correctional officers going to other counties where the pay is higher for the shortage at the Orangeburg County Detention Center.

Right now, the county jail is using officers from the Sheriff’s Office to fill in the gap of correctional officers. Young also wants to assure the community that while there is a shortage, they can ensure the safety of staff and inmates within the jail.

Representatives from the County Detention Center were at a job fair on Broughton Street in Orangeburg earlier today offering those incentives and according to Young, they were able to bring in 4 new correctional officers.

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