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Cost Cutting Takes its Toll
Corrections officers take their jobs seriously. They have to. Guard Susan Vigil explains, "You can get inmates that like to hurt themselves, inmates with mental health problems, and you also get inmates that want to challenge you as an officer." She's unsure whether Ferguson, the CEO-turned-guard, can handle the pressure on the floor.

Due to staff shortages, guards are working twelve-hour shifts instead of the regular eight-hour shifts. "You spend half your life here," one guard says. But the CEO can't hack those kind of hours -- on his first day, he leaves early. "My feet are awfully tired," he says. "My legs are hurting 'cause I'm not accustomed to walking on concrete all the time, and I'm ready for a glass of chardonnay." But Susan and her coworker Jason are still on duty for two more hours.

First stop in the prison for new inmates is the reception area. Here they wait to be processed and categorized and given a permanent bed in the prison. But this department is understaffed, and the new arrivals are waiting to be moved into the prison's general population for longer periods than the state of New Mexico mandates. Inmates are not allowed to attend classes or work while here, causing tension and stress for staff.

Ferguson is told that public prisons use more caseworkers than CCA does to process new inmates. "But we do it better," he tells reception caseworker Marla. She replies, "We do it slower." The state of New Mexico recommends new inmates be processed within two weeks; Ferguson meets an inmate who's waited almost three months to be housed in the general population. Will he hire more caseworkers?

Veteran guard Adam Ramirez has been with CCA 13 years, but only received a 65-cents-an-hour raise in the latest pay hikes. In an effort to retain junior staff, younger guards got higher pay raises. Adam's visibly disappointed and lets Ferguson know: "When there's a little more money, there's a little more inspiration." One younger guard notes how much he has learned from Adam's experience. Will Ferguson make changes in wage structure to satisfy senior staff?

Next: Results - Bad Food Stays But Paperwork Has to Go >>>

John Ferguson cleans an inmate's cell
 
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