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Teamsters seek "pay parity" raises for prison staff

Sen. Greg Evers, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, supports efforts to include pay raises for prison officers in the state budget. Photo by Bill Cotterell.

Dozens of correctional officers converged on Florida's capitol Tuesday to lobby legislators for a pay raise, saying their jobs guarding convicted felons are just as dangerous as those of the cops who put them there.

Corrections Sgt. Tommy Johnson of Marion County said state prisons are chronically understaffed, with officers working 12-hour shifts -- sometimes six days straight, with only one day between work weeks. He said correctional officers undergo a minimum 532 hours of training for certification, and many take additional specialized training that costs the Department of Corrections thousands of dollars, but officers are regularly lured away to better-paying jobs in county jails.

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