SUMMARY OF: A Special Report on the Department of Corrections (DOC), Selected Health and Safety Issues, Part 2, March 5, 2010

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 of the Alaska Statutes and a special request by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, we conducted a performance audit to determine: (1) the extent of Methicillin-Resistant Staphycoccolus Aureus (MRSA) infections among inmates; (2) the frequency of MRSA infections among the DOC, Division of Institutions’ (DOI) correctional officers (CO); (3) the adequacy of protocols for staff when handling incidents of MRSA among inmates; (4) the validity of DOI’s methodology used for staffing patterns at Alaska’s correctional facilities; and (5) the reasonableness of the staffing policies and procedures, including the minimum level of correctional officers on shift at the correctional facilities.

In this report, we address the staffing related issues identified in numbers four and five above. The MRSA-related issues were addressed in a separate report entitled, A Special Report on the Department of Corrections, Selected Health and Safety Issues, Part 1, July 21, 2009, 20-30053A-09.

Report Conclusions

DOI’s overall approach to determining staffing is a method recognized by the National Institute of Corrections and is used by other states’ correctional facilities. However, there were minor deviations from the national methodology for determining the shift relief factor (SRF). Additionally, for some facilities, DOI’s management did not accurately calculate the number of CO positions needed to implement the 2005 SRF study or the 2007 post study.

DOI needs to update its post analysis and address current posts’ efficiency and effectiveness issues.

There are deficiencies in staffing policies and procedures as well as each facility’s standard operating procedures. These deficiencies include no written policy identifying the minimum staffing level posts that must be filled on a shift; post orders do not reflect current practices, and some posts do not have a written post order.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The DOI director should address staffing deficiencies due to inaccuracies, update the SRF for each facility using current data, and appropriately apply the SRF to determine the number of CO positions needed.

In 2005, DOC used a consultant to calculate a statewide SRF which is used in determining the required number of CO positions. In 2007, DOC engaged the same consultant to analyze the posts in five correctional facilities. DOI utilized the results of the 2005 SRF and the 2007 post studies to determine CO positions for the FY 10 budget request.

DOI’s inaccurate application of these studies has created staffing deficiencies. The deficiencies in applying the 2007 study are partially offset by the fact that the data supporting the 2005 SRF study is now out-of-date. The cumulative effect of these deficiencies are Anchorage Correctional Complex (ACC) is short 12 positions, Anvil Mountain Correctional Center (AMCC) is short 3 positions, Fairbanks Correctional Center (FCC) is short 1 position, and Spring Creek Correctional Center (SCCC) is short 1 position.

Recommendation No. 2

DOI’s management should address post efficiency and effectiveness issues.

If DOI were to address all of the efficiency and effectiveness issues simply by increasing the number of positions, it would require an additional 13 posts with 47 positions to cover the posts: 17 at ACC, 5 at AMCC, 20 at FCC, and 5 at SCCC. However, some of these issues can be addressed through operational changes or facility modifications. Finally, DOI management may choose to recognize and continue to accept any risk associated with less than fully effective posts. In the long term, some post efficiency and effectiveness issues related to overcrowding could be partially mitigated with the opening of the Goose Creek Correctional Center in 2012.

Recommendation No. 3

DOI’s director should ensure the superintendents update post orders.

The current post orders of the four facilities reviewed do not establish the requirements for minimum staffing levels. Furthermore, the post orders do not accurately convey either DOI managements’ intent or actual facility practices in relation to which posts are considered mandatory.

Recommendation No. 4

DOI’s management should ensure that facility management complies with policies for minimum staffing levels and, if needed, provide the resources to allow compliance.

DOI is not consistently following departmental policies and procedures regarding minimum staffing levels. Each facility has a minimum number of COs required to be on duty during each shift.