Oklahoma officials held a ceremony at the state Capitol on Tuesday to mark the Department of Corrections’ participation in a hiring program for active-duty personnel in the Army and its veterans.
The ceremony also marked the introduction of the first state agency to the Partnership for Youth Access initiative. Forty-seven businesses in Oklahoma already have joined the program, reported Stars and Stripes.
The initiative provides soldiers, recruits and members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps a guaranteed interview for employment during their time in the Army and after separating.
The Department of Corrections has a significant incentive to become partners in the program — 30 percent of correctional officer positions are unfilled. “We’re underemployed in correctional officers. We’re underemployed in probational officers. Getting more and more of these individuals into those classifications will be critical to ensure our state’s safety,” said Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.
Allbaugh said the skills the Army instills in soldiers, including leadership and discipline, are critical for a job that requires individuals to make quick decisions in stressful situations.
But with the agency’s low starting salaries for correctional officers, Allbaugh said it is unclear if the Army initiative will help the department fill its shortfall of correctional officers. “That’s going to be a real challenge,” Allbaugh said.