Officials say West Virginia jails, prisons in crisis

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Corrections officials say West Virginia’s prisons and jails are in crisis from understaffing and overcrowding, and are urging lawmakers to raise the pay for guards to reduce turnover and fill 600 vacancies.

Testifying Monday before the House Finance Committee, they say one fundamental problem remains low pay, despite the $1 hourly wage increase Gov. Jim Justice’s administration recently added.

Secretary Jeff Sandy says that increased starting pay to $11.87 an hour or $24,664 a year, calling it “a Band-Aid” on the problem.

Sandy, who heads the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, says guards often last only about eight months and move on to other jobs.

He says eight corrections officers a week on average are getting hurt at work.

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