Carbon County officials are trying to alleviate some of the staffing issues at the county prison.

During the monthly meeting of the county salary board, members voted to establish three new corrections officers positions at the Carbon County Correctional Facility. The rate is set at $14.57 per hour.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, said that the action is necessary because 15 full-time officers of the 33 full-time staff are currently out on some type of leave of absence. This is causing major staffing issues because the lack of full-time officers are forcing part-time officers to work hundreds of hours in overtime.

Last month, Nothstein said part-time officers at the prison clocked 2,055 hours on duty with an additional 258 hours in overtime.

"A lot of these part-time corrections officers are not expected to work 1,000 hours a year," he said, "and some are putting in well over 100 or even 200 hours a month."

The current situation was making it very difficult for Warden Joseph Gross and his administrative staff to keep up with the 24-hour-a-day staffing at the prison.

Robert Crampsie, county controller and chairman of the prison board, said that the situation at the prison is causing mandated overtime shifts for part-time officers; and that the prison already has a high turnover rate for part-time employees.

He noted that the action taken at the salary board meeting would not impact the current county budget because four of the 33 corrections officers out on leave are not being compensated at this time.

In 1994, the county created 33 full-time corrections officers positions to help with the growing inmate population, which at that time was around 65 inmates.

Today, the prison, which is located on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning, houses close to 200 inmates on a weekly basis.