CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has declared a state of emergency concerning financial and staffing problems at West Virginia’s county jails.

The governor says many jails are critically short-staffed on corrections officers because neighboring states offer much higher pay. He says the legislature needs to provide more funding for pay raises.

County commissions across West Virginia are also concerned about their rising costs as they are responsible for the daily costs of housing inmates at the regional jails. In Kanawha County, the state’s most populous jail, the bill for July 2022 came to $352,321. That’s 21% higher than last July.

County Commission President Kent Carper says Kanawha County is current on its jail bill, but many counties are behind by more than a million dollars in their jail payments. He says the legislature needs to work on that part of the problem.

In the meantime, Governor Justice is calling out the West Virginia National Guard to help staff jails that are critically short on workers.