HELENA (KPAX) — More than a third of Montana State Prison’s correctional officer positions were vacant in mid-August, according to the Montana Department of Corrections.

In a letter to an interim legislative committee, DOC Director Brian Gootkin said 90 of the 257 correctional officer positions at the Montana State Prison were vacant as of Aug. 12, which is about 35% Since May 10, the prison hired eight new correctional officers, but lost 22.

The Aug. 22 letter from Gootkin was sent to the Law and Justice Interim Committee in response to questions the committee asked Gootkin during a June meeting.

Last Friday, the Montana State Prison employee union picketed the prison and called out leadership for failing to retain employees.

The Montana Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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