STILLWATER, Minn. — Prisons are known for being guarded, but Tuesday the Minnesota Correctional Facility - Stillwater welcomed people in.
They Minnesota Department of Corrections hosted a hiring event in the building across the street from the prison, hoping to fill the many openings they have statewide for corrections officers.
"There are times when just to keep the basic security functions running, we have to use mandatory overtime," said Associate Warden at the Stillwater prison, Victor Wanchena, "We haven't been able to keep pace with just the normal attrition from retirements, and people being promoted, and moving on to other jobs."
The DOC says they're down about 50 officers statewide. In addition to those vacancies, the legislature recently approved funding for the DOC to hire an additional 78 officers over the next few years.
Wanchena says the push for funding more officers has been made for years, but it's getting renewed attention after Stillwater corrections officer Joseph Gomm was attacked and killed by an inmate in July 2018.
"It's a tragedy on a lot of different levels, but if there is a small silver lining in any of this, it's that it has now brought attention to something that's been a very long, ongoing problem for this agency," Wanchena said.
Wanchena says it's been tough to recruit. Partly because of a tough job market, but more so because the prison system is a mystery to many people.
"Corrections is one of those fields that not a lot of people seek out," he said, "People don't really know what it's like. They base it on these preconceived notions that they have."
The DOC hopes hiring events like the one Tuesday help. After candidates applied and interviewed for the job, they went on a tour of the prison.
"It gives people a chance to kind of see the job," said Lt. Jessica Serowiecki, a watch commander at the prison, who was conducting interviews at the hiring event Tuesday, "The more staff we have, the safer we can operate."
The DOC has more information about their corrections officer openings here.