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Missouri Gov. Greitens to join other state leaders in drawing attention to corrections workers

Governor Eric Greitens greets guests at the Governor's Mansion after being sworn in.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has jogged with soldiers, done push-ups with state troopers and rolled up hoses with firefighters since becoming governor of Missouri.

On Monday, he'll serve food to prison inmates near Jefferson City.

It's part of an initiative that eight governors, Republicans and Democrats, a lieutenant governor and an attorney general will take part in this week as a way to understand the needs of prison workers. The push is backed by the U.S. Justice Department, the National Reentry Resource Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Greitens spokesman Parker Briden said the governor will work alongside a group of officers at the Algoa Correctional Center near Jefferson City.

"He's going to be walking with corrections officers, doing what they do every day," Briden said, adding that the governor believes the best way to understand a problem is to work alongside those "on the front lines."

"We've heard from corrections officers for a long time that there are issues within our corrections system," he said, "that there's low morale, that there are people who need to feel reinvigorated, because they do perform a really important public safety operation."

The Department of Corrections has been under scrutiny for several months after reports of widespread harassment and retaliation against employees from supervisors and coworkers.

Greitens hired a new agency head, Anne Precythe, earlier this year, and signed an executive order in June that's a directive to "fix the system."

A special Missouri House committee released a list of recommendations earlier this year for improving the state's corrections system. But some current and former officers who spoke to St. Louis Public Radio said most of the recommendations had been in place for years and were having little to no effect.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.