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Prison Guards Are Fairly Compensated

March 17, 2004

"Rein In the Guards' Raises" (editorial, March 10) was an insult to the 20,000 dedicated men and women working behind California prison walls. Our contract was openly negotiated with state officials and approved by the Legislature after a full legislative review. We followed the rules and negotiated in good faith. Our contract contains pay and benefit provisions similar to those that had already been given to the California Highway Patrol and other law enforcement units. Moreover, our raise follows two years in which we went without a pay increase, which we agreed to as part of the deal. Now some legislators want to make headlines by reneging.

Not only is this fundamentally unfair, it sets a dangerous precedent. Why would any bargaining unit ever trust the state again? We recently proposed ways to cut the corrections budget by hundreds of millions of dollars without compromising the safety of officers or inmates, which generated no interest from the media.

The state's correctional officers work long hours in one of the most threatening and isolated environments imaginable, where inmates assault an average of nine officers every day. The stress and long hours take a terrible toll on the officers and their families. Divorce and stress-related diseases are an occupational hazard. California's correctional peace officers earn and deserve every penny they're paid.

Mike Jimenez

President, California

Correctional Peace

Officers Assn., Sacramento

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