Union for DPSCS Correctional Officers Releases Report Showing Dangerous Understaffing in State Correctional Facilities

Union committed to working with new administration to address critical staffing shortages and dangerous staffing ratios

Baltimore, MD – On Thursday, April 20, AFSCME Maryland Council 3, a union that represents thousands of Maryland state employees, held a virtual press conference to share the results of a report analyzing the dangerously low staffing levels at state correctional facilities across Maryland.

“Understaffing hinders our ability as corrections professionals to provide the best care and safety for detainees. We’re not able to get our work done, and those of us who have stayed are not being compensated for all of the extra work we’ve taken on that has led to numerous resignations, health issues, and even death for our fellow officers,” said Brittany Cozart, a Correctional Officer at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

The report reveals that over 3,400 additional officers need to be hired in order to safely operate DPSCS (Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services) facilities. The report also offers detailed recommendations for each state facility and the posts at each institution regarding the actual number of positions needed to achieve safe staffing levels.

“The way we are currently staffed, there is no room for error or accidents. Without safer staffing levels, the safety of everyone in the facilities is sacrificed. Officers are working 80 hours a week, they’re getting drafted left and right, plus they’re working over time. We’ve said over and over again that we’re understaffed, and the previous administration frequently ignored our concerns or tried to tell us that we weren’t,” said Rownite Stevens, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland.

“Every day we operate like this puts the people who do these jobs and those we supervise at risk of being seriously hurt. I am looking forward to working with Governor Moore’s administration to update these staffing plans and increase staffing in these state facilities. That includes increasing the wages of the officers that have been doing these jobs and working in these dangerous conditions for so long,” says Dorian Johnson, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

This report is a result of the work of a group of 16 DPSCS correctional officers, all active leaders and members of AFSCME Maryland Council 3, who visited each institution included in the report to observe how posts were being staffed and to determine what safe staffing levels would look like.

“This report represents hundreds of hours of work done by our team, visiting every single institution in Maryland and observing all three shifts and working around the clock to show the true number of additional officers we need to have safe staffing,” said Oluwadamilola Olaniyan, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland.

"We are hopeful that this year’s report represents a turning point in addressing the dangerous understaffing in our state facilities. Vacancies in DPSCS are at an all-time high, and AFSCME members across the state have said that this short staffing negatively affects their ability to safely carry out their job responsibilities and causes alarming levels of mandatory overtime, burnout, and dangerous working conditions. We are looking forward to working with Governor Moore’s administration to implement the recommendations in this report and to rebuild our state services,” said AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran.

The full staffing analysis report can be found here.


About AFSCME Maryland Council 3 
AFSCME Maryland Council 3 represents nearly 45,000 public service workers at the local, city, county, state, and higher education levels who provide the valuable public services that our communities rely on. From Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, we make Maryland happen.