As most state government agencies talk about cutting budgets and trimming costs, the state Regional Jail Authority is talking about adding personnel.    However, Regional Jail Authority Director Joe DeLong argues doing so would amount to a cutting of his budget.

“From a direct cost standpoint, it’s certainly cheaper to have a regular time employee in that position than somebody who’s working overtime,” said DeLong.

DeLong says just the direct cost of overtime pay in a year for the RJA amounts to the cost of 186 full time workers.    However, he believes the indirect costs savings would be substantial.

“You also have the issues of Increased security risk, employee fatigue, liability exposure which leads to lawsuits, workers compensation exposure, and certainly employee burnout,” DeLong said.

Burnout is identified as the number one reason corrections officers leave the agency to find other employment.   DeLong says the problems are not associated with overcrowding, but admits overcrowding makes the problem worse.

“When you look at the Regional Jail Authority even though we have overcrowding and more inmates have been added, staff has never been added to account for that,”  he said. “This has nothing to do with that, it has to do with our minimum staffing standards.”

DeLong says it’s not unusual to have guards working 17 to 20 hour days and believes it’s an unsafe situation.

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  • jail worker

    We work 60 -72hours a week and still run 3 + short on a shift. We are burnt out and Fed up with being told we have to be polite to people that spit and throw urine on us or disiplinary action will brought against us. Who are the bad guys? I pay my bills, barely, abid by the law and I am the bad guy? Treat your people with respect and they inturn will treat you with respect. It's easier to do when you employer acts like they haven't forgotton what it is like to walk the floor and helps not continually trying to disipline us.

  • Rcl

    You can hire all you want but keeping them is another thing. Low pay and no hopebtonget a raise means the same old problem.

  • JT

    Higher pay and more flexible schedules have to be implemented otherwise the state will be hard pressed to fill these positions.

  • zerotolerance

    Add 15k to an officer's salary and see what happens. The biggest cause for turnover in all 3 correctional agencies is lack.of pay. An officer who is the sole provider for a family of 4 makes less than the national poverty level. Only Mississippi makes less than a West Virginia correctional officer.

    • Joe

      I couldn't agree with zerotolerance anymore. All correctional staff is extremely underpaid. Perhaps the legislature needs to examine this when they are discussing overcrowding issues and correctional staff being arrested for abusing their power and position

  • Jeff

    As a former correctional employee, I would agree with mr Delong. When you went to work, you better have figured that it was atleast a 16 hour day. Doing that 5-7 days or more straight, definately takes a toll. Add in a family, duties around the house.......and it left about 3 hours for sleep per day. Definately not good being surrounded by killers when you cannot stay awake.

    They (prisoners) allowed you to be in control. They had you anytime they wanted.