West Virginia jails under a state of emergency
WEST VIRGINIA- West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced on Thursday during a media briefing that the jails in the Mountain State are under a state of emergency.
The Governor said the state of emergency is because of critical staffing issues and that there is a shortage of employees in the jail system.
Gov. Justice says this will allow the National Guard to come into the jail system to bridge the gap until the jail system can get more employees. The Governor said he didn’t know how many Guard members would be needed at this time.
The Governor said he directed representatives from the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security (HLS) and Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) to engage with a bipartisan group of legislators to sponsor a bill that would have afforded a $10,000 locality pay adjustment for Correctional Officers across the state where locality pay is necessary for maintaining critical missions of safety and security and to preserve the DCR’s ability to recruit and competitively retain employees.
That bill was stalled in the House of Delegates, and despite being voted out of the House Finance Committee, the full House never got the opportunity to vote on the bill.
An entry-level correctional officer in WV is currently starting at $33,214. That comparable entry level officer is starting at $34,380 in Virginia, $37,630 in Ohio, $40,270, in Pennsylvania, and $43,370 in Maryland.
A non-competitive starting salary coupled with the higher average cost of living in West Virginia makes recruiting to these positions extremely difficult, said Gov. Justice.
Gov. Justice said we could end up in a bad situation if we don’t get ‘this resolved.’
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