CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Regional Jail Authority has reached the halfway point in implementing a new structure which is starting to pay dividends. The policy, which started at the South Central Regional Jail as a test, pushes to hire and train more staff. The idea is to get those people into the system and give some relief to the rest of the staff.
“At this point we’ve added about 75 new positions. When fully implemented you’re looking at about 150 new positions,” said Regional Jail Authority Director Joe DeLong. “But at the same time while we’re adding theses positions we’re saving money.”
DeLong said data suggests once the policy is implemented at all jail it could be a cost savings of $2.5 million to $3 million.
DeLong has backed the plan and said the savings is not only in the form of direct savings, but also comes in the area of not having to keep training new corrections officers.
“Reducing employee turnover due to burnout,” he said. “We spend about three million dollars annually to just train new staff. This should help in reducing the burnout. We’ll also save money over time because of reduced exposure.”
Overall, DeLong said employees have welcomed the change, but not everybody.
“We had an employee at one employee who was a base salary of 24-thousand dollars a year who was making 80-thousand dollars because he just lived there and never went home,” DeLong said. “I can understand money to somebody like that is very important, but that’s just not safe.”
DeLong said most of the officers earn about $35,000 a year by putting in overtime. He believes the staffing program will enable them to earn similar amounts but within the framework of 40 hours a week.”
The plan is to be gradually implemented at all 10 regional jails.