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.

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  • DWL

    Did they finally hire the inmates to run the asylum?

  • Harpers Ferry

    Prisons are no longer institutions, but big business. In order to pay for these new hires there will have to be more jail sentences. Sounds like Nazi Germany to me.

    • Fred

      An excellent comment. In W.Va., we have become financially dependent on criminals, addicts, and their families to provide employment for thousands of law enforcement personnel, to pay for their budget-busting pensions and the support staff they require. This pyramid scheme requires an ever-growing number of citizens to be arrested and fed into the system in order to keep it solvent The inmates, when released, are still addicts and are now unemployable so they end up stealing to survive, get arrested again, and the process starts anew., exactly as designed.

  • Question

    The Job Service office in Parkersburg has a job fair for North Central Regional Jail every other month. The officers don't stay because of the lack of training. And 80 hour work weeks. Administration needs to clean up their act before improvements can be made. Most OT is mandatory 6 days a week with 12 and 16 hour days. That is not safe.