At least 40 guards should be hired to improve security at the 10-month-old Prince George's County jail, according to a staffing analysis produced by the National Institute of Corrections.

The 44-page report said the security of the County Correctional Center near Upper Marlboro "is being jeopardized by personnel being pulled from security posts and utilized to augment operational functions such as work-release and records."

The $43 million facility, which was hailed as containing state-of-the-art features when it opened in late February, has come under increasing criticism after several escapes. Officials placed the blame for those on human error and technological breakdowns.

The report does not place a price on hiring the additional personnel, but Tim Ayers, spokesman for County Executive Parris Glendening, was quick to raise the issue.

"We realize perfectly well we need to do something," Ayers said. But he called the recommendation "the perfect world . . . . We are in the real world, and we need to pull in the budget people, the people from the union and the people from {Corrections Director Samuel F.} Saxton's department and see what can be done."

The study by consultants C.W. Beaver Jr. of Southern Pines, N.C., and Lester Reynold of Columbia, S.C., said the current method of operation would require 63 new security positions to provide a "secure confinement, protection and rehabilitation to more than 800 adult inmates in the facility." The report says that by filling with civilians 19 nonsecurity positions that are now filled with guards, as few as 40 new security officers would be needed.

The report was produced earlier this month but held for release by Saxton until this week. Spokeswoman Mary Crumbacker said Saxton "tends to go along with the report" and plans to work on his own version of a proposal, which he plans to deliver to the county budget office within two weeks.

The recommendation to hire additional guards "brings up a point we've been advocating for some time," said James L. Clark, president of the 172-member Prince George's Correctional Officers Association. He said his organization is still trying to determine how many positions should be added.

Guards at the new correctional center in Upper Marlboro have been working a great deal of overtime. One guard who asked not to be identified said overtime has become a way of life for most of his fellow guards, whose annual base pay averages between $23,000 and $24,000.

During a two-week pay period in November, said the guard, he worked five "mandatory" double shifts and volunteered for a sixth 16-hour day, grossing more than $2,000.

Another guard, he said, was paid more than $60,000 last year after working numerous double shifts. Such shifts leave the guards "so tired and fatigued that you're like a robot," he said.