AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Texas prison board is hoping higher pay can help fill the guard shortage.

The board voted Thursday in Austin to boost salaries for new corrections officers by 10 percent and to accelerate their move up the pay scale ladder. The board's hoping to counter a significant defection of rookie officers during their first year.

The changes, effective May 1, will boost salary of a starting officer from $23,046 to $25,416.

In addition, the Department of Criminal Justice will be offering a recruitment bonus of $1,500 for officers who go to work at understaffed prisons.

In the most recent year, statistics show 43 percent of officers quit in their first year. That's compared with the overall turnover rate of 24 percent in the prison system. As of the end of February, there were 3,594 officer vacancies, about a 14 percent deficit. Some 20 state prisons were considered understaffed.

In addition, the Department of Criminal Justice said it would request "more comprehensive salary adjustments" for all officers in its next state budget request.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.