Governor Mike Parson visited three Missouri prisons today to meet with Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) staff to continue the focus on restructuring state government and discuss proposed changes designed to improve conditions for corrections workers and boost safety for Missourians.
“Our efforts to restructure state government is driven by this administration’s dedication to finding efficiencies wherever we can,” Governor Mike Parson said. “While restructuring is important for the people of Missouri, I also want to be very clear that the problem is not our state workforce. As a former law enforcement officer, I understand and appreciate the value and challenges our correctional workers face. These are important discussions as we work to build a more efficient government, improve accountability, and provide quality customer service.”
The visits follow the Governor’s State of the State Address announcement of a plan to consolidate two prisons in Cameron, Missouri, and invest the savings in staff wage increases. With more than 11,000 positions, MODOC is Missouri’s largest state agency, and its employees are among the nation’s lowest-paid corrections professionals.
Traveling with MODOC Director Anne Precythe, the Governor made stops at Farmington Correctional Center in Farmington; Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in Bonne Terre; and Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston. He met with corrections officers, support staff, and supervisors as well as each facility’s administrative team.
“I appreciate Governor Parson’s vision to restructure state government and his willingness to make the tough decisions necessary to support our team,” Director Precythe said. “His eagerness to meet in person with our frontline staff and hear firsthand about the important work they do truly demonstrates his commitment to our staff and to the safety of the state.”
Under the proposed plan, Crossroads Correctional Center would be consolidated with the adjacent Western Missouri Correctional Center, helping to ease the strain of a statewide staffing shortage, improve employee retention, and ensure facility safety. In addition to a proposed 3 percent pay increase for all state workers, corrections workers would receive a 1 percent increase for every two years of continuous MODOC employment, up to 20 years. The plan would entail no layoffs and no additional offender releases.
In mid-2017, Missouri had the eighth-highest incarceration rate in the United States. Recent changes in the criminal code, coupled with criminal justice reform initiatives, have caused the state’s prison population to drop by more than 2,000, placing the department in a position to consolidate two facilities. Programs designed to improve community supervision, behavioral health treatment, and employability for former offenders are expected to reduce recidivism and keep the population down.
The Governor’s proposed plan is currently progressing through the Missouri General Assembly.