This week the state Department of Correction graduated one of its largest classes of correctional officers in recent years.
Many of them have already reported to work where they are helping to keep the correctional facility staff amount stable as officials brace for the potential of more than 1,000 guards to retire over the coming months, according to department spokesman Brian Garnett.
"These new officers will help to fill holes in our staff across the state at a point when we are facing a higher rate of attrition than we normally would," Garnett said.
About two decades ago the state overhauled correctional facilities and hired about 2,000 new guards nearly all at once. With more than 20 years now gone by, many of those 2,000 new hires from the late '80s are ready to retire and do something else.
"Typically, we have 12 to 15 over the course of a month retiring, but now it's, like, 30 to 45," Garnett said.
There are currently 4,000 correctional officers and the department tries to replenish the workforce as needed. Officers are eligible for retirement after 20 years and to collect a pension because of the job's designation as a "hazardous duty" position.
Some of the new correctional officers have already been assigned to facilities, with many of them also having already reported for work.
The MacDougall-Walker facility in Suffield will receive 13 new officers, while the medium security Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers will receive 11 and the Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield will receive nine.
The Bergin Correctional Institution in Mansfield is not slated to receive any new recruits.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy attended the Tuesday afternoon ceremony at the department's Cheshire headquarters to witness the members of Training Class No. 248 graduate after an intense 10-week course.