State launches rapid hiring process for correctional officers amid coronavirus outbreak

TUMWATER – The state Department of Corrections has launched a "rapid hiring" process for correctional officer positions statewide as the state anticipates staff shortages in coming months due to COVID-19.

“Corrections’ goal is to maintain public safety during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Secretary Steven Sinclair. “As we work to protect our employees and those in our care from exposure to COVID-19, ensuring adequate staffing is critical. These vital public service jobs provide a great opportunity for individuals seeking a career in Corrections, where we work to improve public safety by positively changing lives every day.” 

    The expedited hiring process may extend to additional essential positions, including food service and health care professionals, in coming days or weeks. 

    The expedited hiring comes as thousands of Washingtonians are facing unemployment because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    Numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor and the state Employment Security Department showed that that 133,464 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the state during the week of March 15-21, a more than nine-fold increase over the previous week.

    The state agency has been averaging between 13,000 and 25,000 phone calls every day into its claim centers, spokesman Nick Demerice said. The first week of March, it was between 1,400 and 2,500. He said that during business hours, the agency’s website has averaged 3,000 concurrent users every day since last Tuesday and that in the past two weeks alone the website had 50% of the total active users of all 2019.