W.Va. State Officials Say Staffing Prisons is an Issue
Corrections officials are urging state lawmakers to increase the salaries of prison guards.
Low pay for prison guards remains a big problem in West Virginia, despite a recent $1 an hour increase added by Gov. Jim Justice's administration.
That raise increased starting pay to almost $12 an hour, nearly $25,000 a year.
Corrections officials say it's not enough though and are asking lawmakers to increase pay even more in order to fill 600 vacancies and reduce turnover in the state's understaffed and overcrowded prisons.
Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy says some prison guards are on food stamps or other public assistance. Many last only about eight months before moving on to other jobs. And, Sandy says, on average, eight corrections officers a week are getting hurt at work.
Despite West Virginia’s already established pay raise, surrounding states still pay prison guards more — in Kentucky, about $4,000 more annually and in Maryland, about $10,000 more.