Sununu OKs National Guardsmen to fill jobs at state prison where vacancy rate is 51%

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New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord. File Photo

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has requested support from the New Hampshire National Guard to help fill non-supervisory positions at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men following months of increased staffing vacancies.

To date, the vacancy rate for entry-level corrections officers is at 51% department-wide; in March 2022 the department-wide officer vacancy rate was 39%, and 30% in March 2021, and 29% in March 2020. 

For the next 90 days, and with approval from Governor Chris Sununu, 18 soldiers and airmen will fill positions that will not directly supervise resident inmates. Like missions supported by the National Guard in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic response, soldiers and airmen will work in security control room posts which allows the Department’s sworn and certified corrections officers to work posts that directly supervise and interact with the residents. Security control room posts manage the movements within the unit including remotely opening and securing doors.

The soldiers and airmen will begin a week of specialized corrections-specific training by the Department of Corrections before filling shifts. Training includes topics such as control room operations, inmate movement and count procedures, emergency operations, department rules and guidance, prison rape elimination act guidelines, and more. Training is anticipated to start next week.

Every day, corrections staff, including officers, commit to doing difficult work, in a challenging environment, while maintaining professionalism and respect. The work of corrections staff requires dedication and courage. Our staff demonstrate the physical and morale fortitude to use their authority appropriately, in the face of daily adversity. The Department appreciates the hard work that our team members do every day, and the commitment their families make to support them. Our staff and their families are to be commended for their service and sacrifice, that often goes unnoticed and unrecognized by the general public and media.

The Department extends its thanks to Governor Sununu, the Executive Council, the General Court of New Hampshire, and the men and women of the NH National Guard for their continued support.

Hiring Initiatives:

The New Hampshire Department of Corrections is actively hiring to fill vacancies in positions including nurses, teachers, chefs, maintenance staff and correctional officers. A one-time $10,000 hiring incentive is available to all newly hired corrections officers with a one-year commitment.

Correctional officers start at around $44,400 with promotion to more than $46,000 following completion of the corrections academy and field training program, typically within one year of hire. Additional incentives include overtime eligibility, hazard duty pay, shift differentials, paid vacation, holiday, and sick leave, group II law enforcement pension, and health, dental and life insurance. Department of Corrections officers are sworn and certified law enforcement officers in accordance with NH RSA 106-L and attend the NH Corrections Academy as managed by the NH Police Standards and Training Council.

Recruitment & Retention Initiatives:

In addition to our hiring incentives, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections has significantly increased its focus on recruitment and retention efforts. Through the development of regionalized recruitment and retention teams, the department utilizes corrections officers to recruit prospective officers, and then guide them through the application process and enrollment in the New Hampshire Corrections Academy on their path to becoming certified law enforcement officers. 

Specifically, the department has reassigned two of correctional sergeants to work in temporary assignments as dedicated recruitment/community engagement officers. These sergeants have already made positive contact with over 70 schools and attended 86 career-related events in 2022. In collaboration with Groveton and Berlin High Schools, the Department’s Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility created an introduction to corrections class as a pipeline for perspective high-school students to join the ranks of the NHDOC. 

Wellness Initiatives:

While recruitment efforts are vital, the department recognizes that efforts to retain our current workforce are equally as important. In December of 2022, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections became one of the first corrections organization in the northeast to hire a clinical mental health provider specifically for employees. Dr. John Crampton is instrumental in providing initial assistance to employees and their families in addressing issues that may be affecting their overall well-being. Further, Dr. Crampton is advancing the department’s efforts in establishing its first peer-to-peer support program.

In conjunction with the peer-to-peer program department has two comfort dogs on the team to assist employees experiencing stress and anxiety on the job.

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NH Department of Corrections