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Overtime tops $500 million in California state prisons

Inmate overcrowding and the increasing number of staff vacancies in California's prisons are spiking overtime costs for the state's corrections department, which spent more than half a billion dollars last year on overtime pay, according to analysis of payroll records by the San Francisco Chronicle. Tom Chorneau and Todd Wallack report that the surge -- a 35 percent increase from the agency's overtime bill in 2005 -- comes as the department prepares for a major expansion of the prison system. The Chronicle analysis found that almost 15 percent of the department's 56,000-member workforce earned at least $25,000 in overtime in the last calendar year -- more than eight times the amount paid to the average state worker over the same period.

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