I see the articles on skyrocketing overtime pay for NJ's corrections officers and I'm reminded of a line from A Few Good Men.

"We live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded...who's gonna do it? You? You Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom!"

It's believed overtime hours will hit 775,000 this year. The current cost is said to be $38 million. Some politicians in Trenton are complaining about this.

First of all, corrections officers are not paid enough for what they do. So the average $4,500 per employee in overtime is not causing me any shock and awe. This would only bother me if they feel they are being overworked and don't want the money. If they do want the overtime, let them have it. Why? That's the second of all. Because fewer and fewer people want this dangerous job. They're having recruitment issues. Classes have grown smaller. Once someone is hired, 21% leave for a different job within three years. If they can't keep qualified people and that extra money serves as an incentive to keep good people in a dangerous, thankless job then perhaps this isn't the time to mess with that formula.

Not everyone feels as I do. Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, says the overtime pay "is not insignificant." He says the Department of Corrections should run more efficiently, should pay less overtime, and make better use of the money.

But if the overtime came about because of people not seeking the job of a corrections officer or leaving the job within three years, I would ask who is going to effectively guard our prison walls? You, Assemblyman Burzichelli?

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