72 new ADOC officers deployed to understaffed Alabama prisons - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

72 new ADOC officers deployed to understaffed Alabama prisons

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Seventy-two new corrections officers will be deployed into the state's prisons and correctional facilities next week.

This graduating class is a product of the Alabama Department of Corrections recruitment effort to better staff prisons and diversify its workforce.

The process started in April with 91 recruits. Thursday 72 officers took the oath of office. A memorable moment the newly sworn employees and their families, in a year that's been anything but for ADOC.

Deputy Commissioner for Women's Services and Training Dr. Wendy Williams says injecting new employees in the system is good for everyone involved.

"It's good for the morale of the facilities to see the help on the way. It's also good to see them performing based on what they were trained to do," Williams said.

The Department of Corrections received a scathing letter from the Justice Department in January accusing ADOC of knowing it needed more female officers at Tutwiler Prison but "had taken little action to address it."

The focus is shifting. Thursday, women represented 18 percent of the graduating class. Williams says ADOC has already broken records.

"This year by far we have graduated more women in probably close to 10 years," Williams said.

The 13 female officers say they're up for the challenge. It's confidence that has built over the last three months.

"The first day I didn't think I could do it. It's definitely something women can do," said Ashley McMon, new officer assigned to Childersburg Work Release.

ADOC continues to bolster recruitment. It appointed three new recruitment officers, strategically located across the state, and kicks off a new recruitment class next week.

As for Thursday's graduates, Williams says they have been assigned to facilities across Alabama.

"All of the facilities are as in need for officers. As you know most of our facilities are at close to 200 percent capacity," Williams said.

Williams says the program has added courses since the department's involvement with DOJ, confirming it was teaching the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, before it became law.

"We need what happens here to become a part of their daily performance. We feel like we have a pretty good combination of training techniques to hopefully help that process," Williams said.

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