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D.C. Warned of Prison Guard Exodus

February 11, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Department of Corrections officials warned on Wednesday of a mass exodus of guards now that plans are under way to close the District of Columbia’s Lorton prison.

Corrections chief Margaret Moore and union spokesman Clarence Mack told a City Council committee that jailers need higher salaries and increased benefits. That’s the only way the system, suffering from poor working conditions and undergoing widespread changes, can keep and attract employees, they argued.

``We’ve got to give D.C. corrections staff a reason to stay over the next three years,″ Moore said.

Outside corrections systems such as New Jersey’s are luring away D.C. guards by promising higher salaries, better benefits and more job security, she said.

Moore noted that Lorton is scheduled to close in 2001, but there are already 100 vacancies for jailers in the district. Since last May, 339 employees have quit and only 21 people were hired.

The Lorton prison complex, which houses offenders from the nation’s capital, is located in suburban Fairfax County, Va. Lorton’s 5,400 beds gradually are being moved to federal or privately run prisons as far away as Youngstown, Ohio. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, already houses 1,700 Washington prisoners in Youngstown.

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