Prison Understaffing May Lead to Vulnerable Communities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Prison Understaffing May Lead to Vulnerable Communities

KENNEWICK, Wash. - The workers union representing Department of Corrections employees at Washington state prisons are concerned they don't have enough staff to keep the peace.

A union spokesperson said the state is failing to recruit corrections officers. The part of problem is city and county workers doing the same job get paid more money. And the union believes the staff shortage may begin to threaten public safety.

"It makes our community more vulnerable, should there be an escape or a riot or anything like that. And it also makes the jobs inside the institutions more dangerous," said Leonard Smith, Teamsters Local 117 Director of Organizing.  

Two weeks ago the union sent a letter to the Governor and Department of Corrections asking to talk about the issue. So far they've got no reply.

KNDU/KNDO called the Department of Corrections on Tuesday, but staff declined to comment.