GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Saying it has hundreds of job openings at prisons across the state, the Michigan Department of Corrections is increasing recruiting efforts.

Chris Gautz, a spokesperson for MDOC, said the need is widespread for a variety of positions.

“We … probably need roughly in the area of 80 to 90 corrections officers in the Ionia area at the three facilities that we have there,” Gautz said. “In the Ionia area, we certainly need corrections officers, nurses. … Pretty much everything you can think of in a city, you would need to work in a prison as well.”

MDOC numbers show 866 corrections officer openings so far in 2023, the highest number in recent years.

A graph from the Michigan Department of Corrections show vacancies since 2018.
A graph from the Michigan Department of Corrections show vacancies since 2018.

“We typically try to be in the (400) to 500 range of vacancies because we’re not fully funded by the Legislature to be at zero vaccines, but that 400 to 500 range gets you to a point where pretty much the facilities are running with no mandatory overtime. That’s what we’d really like to get to,” Gautz said.

The state has raised pay and provides sign on and retention bonuses but it has been a challenge to keep up.

“We lose about 50 or so corrections officers every single month due to either retirements, promotions, leaving the department for some other reason,” Gautz said.

MDOC is increasing its advertising and marketing efforts to try to reach younger candidates.

“Every company, every industry is trying to find workers. We’re no different. That’s always been an issue and we’re not any different from any other corrections department,” Gautz said.

The department acknowledges the job comes with risks but says it also can be rewarding.

Grants are available to meet the requirement for 15 hours of college credit in criminal justice.

“The nice thing about the academy as opposed to other types of law enforcement positions is that you become a state employee on your first day of your training, which is an eight-week-long academy,” Gautz said.

For more information on requirements and openings, you can visit the MDOC careers website.