* AFSCME reacted so strongly to the numbers included in a Belleville News Democrat story published this week that the paper has removed the story from its website and issued a partial retraction…
A Belleville News-Democrat article Sunday incorrectly reported the amount of overtime paid to guards and supervisors of the Tamms Correctional Center.
The amount of overtime paid from November 2011 through Oct. 31, 2012, was $425,281, according to payroll data from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The article Sunday, and an editorial published Tuesday, incorrectly reported the state paid at least $884,000 in overtime to correctional officers, lieutenants, sergeants and shift supervisors.
The state did pay supervisors and guards $884,000 above base salary, but the figure includes overtime and “special pay,” according to IDOC. […]
The first sentence of Sunday’s article also incorrectly stated that there were more guards than inmates at Tamms. The overall security staff at Tamms was 221 and the total number of maximum and minimum security inmates was 227, according to IDOC figures.
The maximum security section had 208 security staff members and 138 inmates, the IDOC figures show.
Even so, as the retraction states, the maximum security section has far more staff than inmates.
* But this was not retracted…
In addition, there are 16 food supervisors earning an average of $71,600 a year working at Tamms. That’s the same number of food supervisors as at the Pontiac Correctional Center, which houses around 1,700 maximum- and medium-security inmates. […]
Meal preparation at Tamms consists mostly of food that is not cooked on the premises but comes in cans or packages from a Florida wholesaler, according to surveys by a prisoner advocacy group.
* AFSCME issued this statement before the article was partially retracted…
The Belleville News-Democrat has done a disservice to the public and misled its readers by publishing incorrect information in a recent report and editorial on Tamms Correctional Center. Contrary to the newspaper’s claim that employees were paid $884,000 for overtime worked from November 2011 to November 2012, in truth the figure is less than half that amount—just $425,000, according to information the union obtained from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
It should be noted that the newspaper failed to contact our union before publishing its false information. We have contacted News-Democrat editors and urged them to retract their report and editorial, correct them and issue an apology.
We are in the process of carefully scrutinizing all other purported facts cited in the article. It is clear that the paper’s central claim, that “there are more guards than inmates at Tamms,” is grossly misleading. The prison has approximately 234 inmates in its closed-maximum and minimum-security wings, and about 50 security staff per shift. To insinuate that there are ever more security employees on duty than inmates is false.
With respect to overtime, while some overtime is inevitable in any 24-7 facility, our union has long contended that regular reliance on overtime—especially forced overtime—serves no one, including employees who become exhausted, and should be reduced to the extent possible. It should be noted that existing overtime costs at Tamms are in line with the past—the FY 2011 overtime expenditure there was $340,000—and result from staff shortages. Right now at Tamms the state’s failure to hire needed employees in recent months has resulted in higher-paid correctional officers being temporarily assigned to clerical, food supervisor, supply and library positions that would pay lower wages if filled.