Gov. John Carney and the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware announced June 20 an agreement to increase starting salaries for Delaware’s correctional officers and study additional changes to help recruit and retain officers, and decrease the use of mandatory overtime across Delaware’s correctional system.

The agreement was approved June 19 by COAD’s membership.

“This agreement represents a significant step forward in addressing our staffing challenges at the Department of Correction,” Carney said. “We will fairly raise starting salaries for Delaware’s correctional officers and work closely with COAD to improve our ability to recruit officers. To be clear, making real improvements to our prison system won’t happen overnight. But we are committed to working, over the long-term, to improving conditions for officers and inmates inside Delaware’s correctional facilities.”

Carney pledged to increase correctional officer pay — and take steps to decrease the use of mandatory overtime — in his response to the initial report of the Independent Review into the causes of the Feb. 1 incident at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

The two-year agreement announced will increase starting salaries for correctional officers to $40,000 in fiscal 2018 and to $43,000 in fiscal 2019 — a 22 percent increase over current salary levels.

Salary negotiations were based, in part, on a study and comparison of correctional officer salaries in surrounding states.

The agreement also creates a new six-member labor-management committee to study ways to help recruit and retain officers, and decrease the use of mandatory overtime in Delaware’s prisons. The Department of Correction and COAD will each appoint three members to the committee.

Areas of study will include: the establishment of a 12-hour shift; the establishment of physical fitness testing; the establishment of a career ladder; and the establishment of a freeze policy.

For information, visit bit.ly/2rSfhom.