Department of Corrections establishes hotline, other changes for employee complaints

Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe gave lawmakers an update on changes within the department at an investigative committee hearing April 20th, 2017. (Ashley Zavala/KRCG)

The new director of the Department of Corrections testified Thursday morning to the committee of lawmakers investigating the workplace environment in the state's prison system.

Director Anne Precythe told lawmakers the department has established a number of changes, including the avenues in which employees can now report workplace concerns.

Precythe said the department has established an office of professional standards, which will handle employee complaints. The inspector general's office used to investigate both inmate and employee matters.

"Once we got in and really started to look at the number of investigations, there's no doubt the inspector general was doing a tremendous amount of work, and I would never take away from the quality of the work they had done," said Precythe. "We just need to redirect our resources and that skill to focusing on our employees."

Employees have the option to report incidents through the chain of command, the regional human resource officer, and now, a hotline for employees to call. The hotline is connected to the office of professional standards, according to Precythe.

Precythe also said the department is considering bringing in an outside agency to help evaluate the managers and management within each prison.

"I need to make sure my managers-and I know that's a broad term, but anyone who supervises an employee- all have the right tools to be able to be the best employee that they can."

The director's testimony wrapped up 10 hearings the investigative committee launched in response to a report showing the department spent millions of dollars over the last five years in tax payer money in employee lawsuits and settlements. .

Precythe told lawmakers the department has not spent any additional money on the changes, rather, the department has moved within its existing resources.

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