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Dallas jail officers protest after revealing they are working 16-hour shifts for days at a time due to labor shortage
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Dallas jail officers protest after revealing they are working 16-hour shifts for days at a time due to labor shortage

Officers at Dallas County Jail in Texas are protesting against working 16-hour shifts for days in a row due to the ongoing labor shortage.

What are the details?

According to a Thursday Insider report, officers said that jail staffers were quitting their jobs and that the jail struggled to find replacements.

The Dallas Observer reported that some officers were required to work 16-hour shifts for five days in a row. Many officers, according to the report, said they often didn't even know they were working a second eight-hour shift until 30 minutes before the first eight-hour shift's quitting time.

Due to the conditions — which continue to deteriorate — at least 12 officers protested Tuesday on the steps of the Frank Crowley Courthouse in Dallas.

During the protest, officers said that the jail had been struggling to maintain adequate staffing for years and that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation on an entirely new level.

One officer at the jail told the Dallas Observer that the amount of employees retiring or quitting easily overtook the number of hires.

Another officer added that she caught COVID-19 at the facility.

"I brought it home," she told KXAS. "The inmates aren't being made to wear masks, but we are. ... No one wants to work in these conditions. We all like to go home and be with our families."

Another officer added, "We just want to let everybody know we're doing our jobs, but we're not robots. We can't continue to work three or four days of overtime."

What else is there to know about this?

A spokesperson for the jail told KXAS-TV that the facility sometimes mandated overtime in order to meet staffing requirements.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price told the station the that under state regulations, the Dallas County Jail needs at least one on-duty detention officer per every 48 inmates.

As of Monday evening's count, the jail had 5,976 inmates.

"We have to be in compliance and sometimes that means you have to be mandated if we don't get enough volunteers," Price said, adding that many of the jail's detention officers had recently been on leave, with a large increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insider reported that up to 300 of the jail's 1,450 detention officers were recently on leave. Price said that before the coronavirus pandemic impacted the facility's operations, the number would hover somewhere between 170 and 200.

"I'm not going to lay it all on COVID," Price said. "Granted, it has been amplified because of COVID."

In a statement, Sheriff Marian Brown said, "Managing the county jail requires adherence to state regulatory staffing numbers. Currently, because we have vacancies, we must utilize overtime to remain in compliance. We continue to work to get to a point where overtime is not a necessity."

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