Staffing shortages prompt temporary Missouri prison closures

Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Two Missouri prison facilities are temporarily closing and relocating inmates because of statewide staffing shortages.

The St. Joseph News-Press reports  that 75 inmates are being transferred from the minimum security Kansas City Reentry Center to the Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph and the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron.

The low-security Cremer Therapeutic Community Center in Fulton also is also temporarily closing, and all 43 offenders are being transferred to Fulton Diagnostic, Reception and Correctional Center.

Staff from the closed facilities will be moved to the larger prisons, where they can be used to help reduce overtime, Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said in an email.

But Tim Cutt, executive director of the Missouri Corrections Officers Association, said staff members don't want to drive farther for the same money. 

"They're not going to go there," Cutt said, adding that staffing shortages have never been so bad and that recruitment efforts need to improve.

Usually the pay is enough to make up for the difficult work environment, but the long hours puts staff in a dilemma.

"Talking to a recruiter, talking about all that extra money you can make, it sounds good, but when you actually do it six, seven days a week, that's another thing," Cutt said. "You miss your kid's baseball games, birthdays, anniversaries, and they're not going to go for that for very long. It's a Catch-22."