JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Millions of dollars are on the way to Missouri corrections officers. The money also comes with a change to the prison pay system.
Four years ago, state prison workers convinced a jury they’d been shorted pay. The state kept appealing the $113 million ruling until now.
Corrections officers could not even clock in until gathering equipment and getting through a series of prison checkpoints. Yet they were immediately required to respond to an incident as an officer.
“I left because the shifts were long. They were grueling,” former corrections officer Samantha Moore said.
Moore will now get paid for her lost time. When she heard the news, she said she was, “…absolutely and completely shocked. It wasn’t something I think any of us thought was going to come to fruition, like I said we kind of all shelved it thinking, maybe one day possibly our kids will see it.”
Current and former officers will get paid a share of a $50 million settlement based on their years of service. The attorney who helped secure the settlement, Gary Burger, said, “It’s not one of those class actions where everyone just gets a credit on something and never sees a dime. This is cash in their pocket that they’re going to get paid, without even having to sign a claim form.”
Burger added, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a union member or not – every single corrections officer gets it. If they died their kids get it. We made sure that if they died during this case, their next of kin would get it and everybody gets a fair share based on how long they worked.”
It could mean thousands of dollars in back pay for some officers. Plus, the settlement changes the future pay system.
“Every officer gets an extra 15 minutes on their shift every shift for the next eight years, a value of about $60 million,” Burger said.
He estimates that’s as much as $1,500 to $2,000 for each corrections officer every year.
“It’s hard to change a system,” Burger said, “You can’t fight city hall, right? You can’t fight the state of Missouri. Well, we did and we won and we changed the system.”
Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe responded to FOX 2’s request for comment, saying, “We’re happy for them, happy to have the matter resolved, and happy to be part of the solution.”
The calculations should be complete by October, meaning current and former corrections officers throughout Missouri will get their checks by Christmas.
“A lot of us needed that,” Moore said. “I think we needed to see some type of closure with the Department of Corrections in holding them accountable.”