Governor Calls for State of Emergency to Address Staffing at Regional Jails, State Prisons

By Connect Clarksburg Staff | January 12, 2018
Gov. Jim Justice.has declared a state of emergency for corrections officer staffing in West Virginia.
Justice plans to use the state’s National Guard to maximize staffing at the facilities until “legislative and operational remedies can be developed and implemented.”
 
Severe understaffing at West Virginia’s jails and prisons has been the subject of concern among public officials for the past several months. The next legislative session begins in less than two weeks, Jan. 10, 2018.
 
Justice’s order, signed on Dec. 22, says the number of correctional officers is fewer than what recommended to safely operate the facilities. It concludes there is a danger to the public and also to those who are jailed.
 
The issue came to a head in early November after the escape of an inmate from the South Central Regional Jail. State officials said staffing problems at the jail may have contributed to the security breakdown.
 
“We have a terrible problem with turnover and retaining experienced, qualified officers,” Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said at the time.
 
An announcement issued Friday afternoon by the Justice administration did not mention the state of emergency declaration but instead focused on an executive order allowing corrections staff to carry over annual leave.
 
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Photo by Steve Rotsch.
 

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