SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — With the number of retirements on the rise, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is looking to hire thousands of officers over the next three years, despite a lower prison population.

Over the past two years, the prison population in California has decreased by 25,000 as more offenders are sent to local jails. The prison system, however, is experiencing a higher than normal retirement rate of 1,800 a year.

“So we anticipate over the next three years we’ll need to replace approximately 7,000 officers,” Dana Simas, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told KCBS.

The application process for a correctional officer can take between nine and 12 months Simas said. A psychological evaluation, pre-employment medical examination and background investigation are part of the process.

Officers are needed at all institutions, but especially at prisons in Blythe and Imperial County in Southern California, as well as Pelican Bay.

New correctional officers earn about $4,000 a month, plus overtime and benefits.

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