The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the labor market have pushed many prison staffing systems into crisis. Correction officers are retiring and quitting in droves, while states struggle to recruit new employees.
In Texas, Lance Lowry quit after 20 years to become a long-haul trucker because he couldn’t bear the job any longer. Staff shortages have long been a challenge for prison agencies, given the low pay and grueling nature of the work. And some prisons whose populations dropped during the pandemic have seen their numbers rise again, exacerbating the problem.
Meanwhile, prisoners don’t see family members and can’t shower. Counseling and other programs have fallen away.