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County set to hire 16 correctional officers

County set to hire 16 correctional officers

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Napa County will be spending $700,000 to $1 million annually to pay for eight new correctional officers in a move to address staffing shortages and changes in the inmate population at the county jail.

The county will hire 16 officers total, although eight will be to fill vacant or vacating positions. County senior management analyst Liz Habkirk said the positions were needed because the jail was frequently beginning shifts two officers short, and had difficulty covering sick leave or vacation time.

Habkirk said the move will also help address impacts the jail has experienced due to the state government’s public safety realignment initiative, which shifts some inmates from state prisons to county jails to alleviate overcrowding. The county will be covering six of the eight new positions with money it receives from the state to pay for realignment.

The officers will be hired by Jan. 1 2013, making the county’s cost this fiscal year $358,000, which will escalate to about $716,000 for the full year. Habkirk said those costs will grow in steps to about $1 million after five years.

She told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the jail has no plans to need money from the county’s general fund to pay for the move, and will achieve savings by eliminating a corporal position and reducing overtime costs.

Director of Corrections Lenard Vare told the board that adding these extra officers should greatly reduce, or even eliminate, the need for overtime for correctional officers, barring a major, unplanned incident.

“We’re hopeful we’re going to manage it in the best way possible,” Vare told the board.

The supervisors voted unanimously to approve the staffing changes during their meeting Tuesday morning.

Supervisor Keith Caldwell said it was clear the county was going to need to add correctional staff after the Legislature passed the Realignment Act in 2011.

“With realignment we understood it would take some additional staffing,” Caldwell said. “I think fully staffing the jail is the correct way to go.”

Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht agreed.

“We’re dealing with what looks like what’s actually coming in,” Wagenknecht said. “I think it’s a wise choice — it’s just sticker shock.”

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