Overtime costs have been skyrocketing in New Jersey’s county jails, according to a new report by the state comptroller, totaling $185.7 million between 2010 and 2012.
Five facilities — those in Cumberland, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean, and Salem counties — spent at least 20 percent of their total corrections officer compensation on overtime. The counties with the lowest percentage of overtime were Cape May, Warren, and Bergen, all of which had less than 5 percent of their compensation costs devoted to overtime.
Indeed, Salem, Mercer, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Ocean all spent more than 15 percent of their overall expenditures on overtime. Even some of the counties that were not racking up high overtime costs were paying corrections officers in the high range. The average Bergen County corrections officer earns approximately $102,000, of which more than $5,000 was for overtime. In Union County, corrections officers earned an average of $90,000, of which more than $18,000 was overtime.
The comptroller listed the cause of the problems to be a lack of administrative and fiscal oversight; poor staffing planning and leave policies; inadequate use of technology to schedule and assign overtime; and insistence on attendance at a training academy rather than on-the-job training to fill positions.