The McConnell Unit Prison in Beeville has nearly 200 job openings, but is having a tough time filling them, all because of three words: Eagle Ford Shale.
In addition to the 191 open positions for correctional officers, the McConnell Unit also has 10 supervisory positions available, as well as maintenance positions, food service positions, commissary positions, laundry positions, you name it.
They are having a tough time competing with the Eagle Ford Shale companies for those available workers.
"When you consider what the pay in the oil field is, you know, we can't match that in the state government," Senior Warden Gary Currie said. "We can't hope to match the pay in the oil field, and that's a big part of it."
Currie became senior warden at the McConnell Unit seven months ago. At that time, the prison was only 52-percent staffed. In his 25-year career, he said that is the worst he's ever seen.
He has since brought the prison staff up to a 64.4-percent level, but that's still really low. As a result, the prison is having to rely heavily on overtime in order to run the facility safely and efficiently.
"At the current state that we're in, we work overtime seven days a week," Currie said. "Our staff, they work one of their days off every week, and some of them work more than that on a voluntary basis."
Currie said he is working hard to try and get the prison's staffing level percentages up. He said he does recruiting seminars every 45 days, trying to get the word out about a signing bonus the prison offers for correctional officers, as well as benefits and housing opportunities; but he said the prison is going to have to do a better job at recruiting and retaining staff.
Right now, the prison has correctional officers driving from places like Edinburg and Houston to work overtime at the McConnell Unit, to help run the facility at a safe and efficient level.
The warden said correctional officers are the backbone of the staff, and so they need to fill those open positions. For information regarding these jobs, click here.
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