It’s well known that no one wants to be in jail as an inmate, but right now, apparently, no one wants to be in Guilford County’s two jails as an employee: Of the 381 budgeted positions in the Detention Division of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, there are now 47 vacancies.
In the past, Sheriff’s Department officials have said that the county’s detention services are strapped even when nearly fully staffed – which is why former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes was constantly asking for more positions during the county budget season.
Given the difficulty the department has had when it comes to hiring detention officers, many Guilford County officials were surprised at the end of November when then incoming Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers fired at least seven employees who worked in detention – including former Sheriff’s Department Major Jeff Rollins, who ran the two jails.
Rogers said that those officers who were fired needed to be fired. He said there are going to be big changes in the way detention services is run under his administration and he added that he had adamantly instructed current staff not to mistreat the inmates.
Rogers went through the county’s Greensboro jail recently on a tour and talked with inmates and hugged them as well.
It’s not known if any of the 47 vacancies in detention are a result of officers leaving of their own accord after the change at the top of the Sheriff’s Department or after Rollins was dismissed.
In 2017, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners funded a new media campaign to try and convince more people to work in the county’s jails, which by all accounts is not a highly glamorous occupation.
In addition to jail guards, the Detention Division also has administrators, office personnel, those who transport inmates and other employees.
Guilford County’s jail system should be a fairly attractive place to work compared to other county jails. In 2012, Guilford County opened a giant new jail in downtown Greensboro with better organization, greatly improved lines of sight, more electronic monitoring, more space per inmate and new furnishings and equipment – all of which improve the work environment for the guards.
The added space in Greensboro has also reduced overcrowding at the High Point jail. The two jails have been nowhere near capacity since the opening of the new jail.
Starting salary for a jail guard in Guilford County is $35,661 a year for hires who have a high school education, $37,461 for those with an Associate’s Degree and $41,061 for those with a Master’s Degree in psychology, sociology, public administration, business administration or criminal justice.