Nv Doc Staffing Report 2006
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INTRODUCTION At the direction of the Executive Branch Audit Committee, we conducted an audit of the Department of Corrections. Our audit addressed the following four questions: 9 What is the Department’s role? 9 What services must the Department provide? 9 Is the State the proper level of government to provide these services? 9 If State government is the appropriate level of government, is the Department carrying out its duties efficiently and effectively? Our audit examined whether the Department should enhance correctional officer staffing. 1 Agency’s Role and Public Purpose Nevada established the state prison system in 1864, which was named the Department of Corrections in 2001. The Board of Prison Commissioners governs the Department. The Board is composed of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. The Department Director oversees the institutions and staff responsible for receiving, retaining, then releasing offenders sentenced to prison. Prison security is the responsibility of correctional officers who, by statute, must be peace officers. 2 Correctional officers provide safety and security to the public, staff, and offenders by ensuring offenders are supervised and remain in custody until released. The Department has twenty institutions to house offenders. The institutions include prisons, conservation camps, and restitution centers 3 (institutions). The institutions are staffed with correctional officers as follows: See Exhibit I. 1 2 3 Our audit focused on staffing for posts manned seven days a week using 8 hour shifts. Correctional officers must be peace officers in order to enforce the law, such as controlling offenders both inside and outside the institution, and pursuing and returning escaped offenders. Conservation Camps house minimum custody offenders that are employed to support the Nevada Division of Forestry’s fire suppression and conservation efforts. Restitution Centers offer certain offenders within one year of prison release, the opportunity to establish employment, which assists in meeting restitution obligations. 1 Exhibit I Number of Correctional Officers by Institution Nevada State Prison Northern Nevada Correctional Center Ely State Prison High Desert State Prison Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Center Warm Springs Correctional Center Northern Nevada Restitution Center Southern Desert Correctional Center Lovelock Correctional Center Casa Grande Conservation Camps (10) Total 177 210 289 301 86 63 6 171 213 16 116 1648 The State is the appropriate level of government to receive, retain, and release offenders. The Department provides a single point of contact statewide for courts, law enforcement, local governments, and other states. The Department houses about 12,000 offenders with a total operating budget of $246 million for fiscal year 2006. The Department employs about 1,648 correctional officers at an estimated cost of $84 million. Scope and Objective We use a risk-based approach when selecting agencies for an audit. We focus our resources on operational areas with the most opportunities for improvement. A preliminary survey involves understanding an agency's programs through interviewing staff, observing agency operations, reviewing laws, regulations, policies, procedures, agency records, strategic plans, budgeting and staffing levels, and other information on agency activities. Our audit scope addressed the Department’s correctional officer staffing levels. We reviewed the procedure used to calculate the number of correctional officers needed. We analyzed correctional officer staffing data and discussed the procedure with Department personnel, the Budget and Planning Division, and the Legislative Counsel Bureau. 2 Our audit focused on the following objective: 9 Should the Department enhance correctional officer staffing? We performed our audit in accordance with the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. The Division of Internal Audits expresses appreciation to the Director and Department staff for their cooperation and assistance throughout the audit. Contributors to this report included: Paula Ward Executive Branch Auditor IV Bill Prowse Executive Branch Auditor III Department of Corrections Response and Implementation Plan We provided draft copies of this report to Department officials for their review and comments. The Department’s comments have been considered in the preparation of this report and are included in Appendix A. In its response, the Department accepted the one recommendation. Further, Appendix B includes a timetable to implement our report’s one recommendation. NRS 353A.090 specifies within six months after the Executive Branch Audit Committee releases the final audit report, the Chief of the Division of Internal Audits shall evaluate the steps the Agency has taken to implement the recommendation, and shall determine whether the steps are achieving the desired result. The Chief shall report the six month follow-up results to the Committee and Agency officials. The following report contains our findings, conclusions, and recommendation. 3 Should the Department Enhance Correctional Officer Staffing? The Department of Corrections should evaluate if its correctional officer staffing level is appropriate. When determining the proper staffing level, the Department should consider time officers are away from their posts, and the methods to compensate for it, including personnel costs and security concerns. Correctional officers man posts to secure institutions. Posts are locations, such as secured gun towers, which are placed in strategic locations within an institution. Towers allow correctional officers to oversee large areas of the prison at one time. Posts can also be located within housing units with cells where offenders sleep. Each post may have one or more positions per shift. Officers man these positions unarmed (except in gun towers) and must physically control offenders or call for assistance if offenders become aggressive. The Department establishes posts and positions during the initial design of the institution. When establishing posts and positions, the Department takes into account building architecture and type of inmates to be housed in the institution. Based upon this analysis, the Department submits the posts and positions to the Budget Division and the Legislature for approval. Most posts must be manned twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; however, this exceeds the time officers are available due to: 9 9 9 9 Regular days off – 2 days each week, Annual leave, Sick leave, and Training. To cover officers’ time away from their posts, Nevada adopted a “relief factor” in the late 1970’s. The relief factor provides coverage when officers are not available to man their positions. Nevada’s relief factor consists of 1.0 full time correctional officer position, plus an additional 0.6 full time officer for relief. The Department multiplies the 1.6 relief factor by the number of approved positions to determine how many officers it needs to provide coverage. See Exhibit II for an example of the relationship between posts, positions, and officers: 4 Exhibit II Example of Relationship Between Posts, Positions, and Officers Institution Post Position 1.6 staff Post Position Position 1.6 staff 1.6 staff Position Position 1.6 staff 1.0 1.6 staff 1.0 .60 1.0 .60 1.0 .60 .60 1.0 .60 Time Away From Posts Per Department management, for the year ended March 31, 2006, posts were manned only 83 percent of the time at the Department’s seven largest institutions. 4 Based on the data provided, shortage of staff for authorized posts occurred for two reasons, vacancies and off-post duties. 9 Vacancies 5 consist of: • Hiring – Time it takes to recruit and qualify (physical agility, and psychological, drug, and background tests) an officer for hiring, • Pre-service training – Time for required six-week training course provided to new recruits before manning posts, and • Instructing – Time correctional officers spend teaching all Department training. 9 Off Post Duties consist of: • Military leave – Time officers are on active military duty, • Physical exams – Time officers use to go to their required physical exams, 4 5 Based on staffing data for twelve months ended March 31, 2006 at Northern Nevada Correctional Center, High Desert State Prison, Ely State Prison, Lovelock Correctional Center, Warm Springs Correctional Center, Southern Desert Correctional Center, and Nevada State Prison. The time it takes to fill vacancies is approximately three months. 5 • • Range qualification – Time officers use to qualify at the firing range, and Security transport – Time officers oversee inmate(s) when at the hospital, in court, or in transit to other institutions. The current relief factor does not account for vacancies and off-post duties. Exhibit III compares the current relief factor (1.6) to the actual days officers were not available to man their posts in the twelve months ending March 2006. Exhibit III Comparison of Relief Factor to Actual Days Used For the Year Ended March 2006 Days in year Less: Regular Days Off – 2 days per week Annual leave days Sick leave days Annual training days Less: Vacancies Hiring Pre-service training Instructing Less: Off-Post Days Current 365 Year End March 2006 365 (104) (15) (15) (3) (104) (15) (15) (3) (19) (3) (1) Military leave Physical exams Range qualification Security transport (2.5) (.2) (.3) (2) (137) 228 Total Days not available Days Available Current Relief Factor 1.0 + (137 divided by 228) Revised Relief Factor 1.0 + (165 divided by 200) (165) 200 1.6 1.825 Compensating Methods The number of officers working on a shift is often insufficient to staff all posts due to vacancies and off-post duties. If there are too few officers to staff posts and the shift supervisor believes institutional security would be compromised, the warden or associate warden of operations will pull officers, shut down a post, or ask officers to work overtime. 6 • • • Pull Officers– Up to half of the officers manning a post may be moved to cover another post. Pulls provide the necessary security at higher risk posts at the cost of inadequate personnel at lower risk posts. This may keep costs down, but at the expense of security. Shut down posts – A shut down involves removing officers from their assigned post to provide security at a higher priority post. Inmates are removed from or secured at the shut down post. This provides increased security at both the shut down post and where the officer is reassigned. However, this may anger offenders whose movements are limited. Authorize overtime – After pulls and shut downs have been used; the warden approves overtime in order to maintain security. The warden represents overtime causes officer fatigue and may decrease their job performance. Overtime provides the necessary coverage, but at the high cost of salaries and officer fatigue. Evaluate Increasing the Relief Factor The Department should evaluate increasing the relief factor to address overtime, pulls, shut downs, vacancies, and other off-post duties. In its evaluation the Department should consider: 9 Costs to hire additional staff, 9 Impact on security, and 9 Sufficiency of data used to determine the amount of vacancies and offpost duties. We surveyed Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina, whose correctional facilities have similar population and organizational structure to Nevada. Correctional staff from these states represent they periodically update their relief factors to ensure facilities have an adequate number of correctional officers to maintain security. These states’ relief factors and Nevada’s are based on the following days. See Exhibit IV. 7 Exhibit IV Days Used to Compute Relief Factor for Nevada and Three Other States’ Relief Factors Regular Days Off Annual Leave Sick Leave Holidays Training Vacancies Off-Post Duties Relief Factor Date Last Revised Nevada 104 15 15 06 3 Oklahoma 104 11 11 11 14 Oregon 104 14 9 0 0 South Carolina 104 14 10 12 5 0 0 0 9 6 18 16 21 1.60 1978 1.79 2003 1.75 2000 2.00 2005 These states use either vacancies and/or time off-post when calculating their relief factors. Both Oregon and South Carolina include a component to reflect the time officer positions are vacant. Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina consider time for off-post duties in their relief factors. In the past, the Department used a higher relief factor. In 1996, the Department hired a private contractor to provide security at one of its institutions. The approved contract provided for a relief factor of 1.72 for its correctional officer positions. Personnel Costs If the Department increased the relief factor, both the number of officers and the costs would also increase, as shown in Exhibit V. 6 Officers work regular shifts during holidays, receiving holiday pay compensation. 8 Exhibit V Projected Cost of Increasing Relief Factor Additional Personnel Costs $14,000,000.00 1.825 $12,000,000.00 1.8 $10,000,000.00 1.75 $8,000,000.00 $6,000,000.00 1.7 $4,000,000.00 1.65 $2,000,000.00 $0.00 1.6 0 51 103 154 206 231 Additional Corre ctional Officers The Department currently spends about $3.5 million in overtime (does not include overtime expended for holidays). Much of this could be avoided if a larger relief factor were used. Security Concerns In the last four years, the inmate population has grown by 15 percent while the number of reported crimes within the prison system has increased by 113 percent. Crimes include assault and battery, escapes, and weapons possession. Department management attributes the increase in reported crimes to an improved reporting system, a more violent population, and an outdated relief factor. Department wardens represented the following incidents may have been prevented or minimized if posts were fully manned as authorized: • In March 2006, three offenders with gang affiliations attacked an offender from a rival gang who an officer was escorting. Policy requires that two officers escort the gang member, however another officer was unavailable. As a result of the fight, the four offenders and one officer received injuries. • In March 2006, a fight broke out between two inmates in the institution’s educational facility. The educational facility did not have an assigned 9 correction officer. An educational staff member had to call for officer assistance. One offender was injured in the fight. • In August 2005, an offender escaped in a vehicle leaving the institution. One officer was manning the post where two officers were authorized. During the three months before he was recaptured, the offender allegedly committed robbery, auto theft, and kidnapping. Sufficiency of Data The Department should ensure last year’s vacancies and off-post data is representative of all institutions. To date, staffing data was only available for one year at seven of the twenty institutions. Gathering information from all institutions and for a longer time frame will ensure sufficient data. Recommendation 1. Evaluate increasing the relief factor 10 Appendix A Department of Corrections Response and Implementation Plan 11 12 Appendix B Timetable for Implementing Audit Recommendation In consultation with the Department of Corrections, the Division of Internal Audits categorized the one recommendation contained within this report as having a period of less than six months to implement. The Department of Correction’s target completion date is incorporated from Appendix A. Recommendation with an anticipated implementation period of less than six months. Recommendation 1. Evaluate increasing the relief factor. (page 10) Time Frame Completed a The Division of Internal Audits shall evaluate the corrective action taken by the Department of Corrections concerning the report recommendation within six months from the issuance of this report. The Division of Internal Audits must report the results of its evaluation to the Committee and the Department of Corrections. a Internal Audits will verify the implementation status of this recommendation during its follow-up process. 13