CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It has been one year since Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) placed the West Virginia Department of Corrections under a state of emergency, and now many are calling on him to order a special session to tackle the staffing shortage.
The state of West Virginia says its prisons and jails have more than 1,000 vacancies, 700 of which are for correctional officers.
Many look to money as a big part of the problem, which West Virginia’s neighboring states and the federal prison system paying higher average salaries. So officers who train in West Virginia will move to other states for better pay.
“They’ve got time, little time that they sleep. And so, they’re not at their best whenever they have not had enough rest or had a little break away from the job. It’s very dangerous,” said Elaine Harris, of the Communications Workers of America, the union that represents corrections workers.
Because of the corrections emergency, many want Governor Jim Justice to call a special session of the legislature since many lawmakers will be at the Capitol beginning Sunday for their monthly interim committee meetings.