CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A pilot project aimed at curbing costs in the state’s regional jail system has paid fast dividends to the agency.
Regional Jail Authority Director Joe DeLong told state lawmakers this week fourteen new corrections officers were added at the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston in June. The officers were hired, trained, and added to a new schedule outlined in a study of the system by WVU. The savings were immediate by hiring the new workers and reducing overtime for current employees.
“In one month by adding 14 correctional officers, after paying for their salary and benefits, South Central Regional Jail saved 18,000 dollars in personnel costs,” DeLong said.
DeLong pushed for the pilot program after reviewing the study data from WVU. The idea added more corrections officers to save money. It’s a concept which is a tough sell at a time when most agencies are freezing hiring and leaving positions unfilled. Regional Jails have suffered from high turnover of corrections officers. A lot of it blamed on excessive overtime.
“Spread across the course of a year that would be about 200-thousand dollars on that facility,” DeLong told members of the legislative interim committee “We expect anywhere from about 1-point-5 to 2 million dollar annual reduction in our personnel cost when this is fully implemented across the state.”
DeLong added they also tried the pilot for a brief period of time at the Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County. The program came at a time when the facility was fully staffed and DeLong said when the staff was full there were also substantial savings.