CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy says they’re proposing two alternate jail per diem rates that will be paid by the federal government and by the state Division of Corrections, allowing the county per diem rate to remain at $48.25.

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State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy

“The per diem that it is today will remain. How we are going to pay for the regional jail and correctional officers is by increasing the per diem rate that the United States government pays for their federal inmates in our facilities,” Sandy told members of the House Finance Committee Wednesday.

“And number two, our Division of Corrections has 1,500 inmates in our regional jails and they’re going to be paying the actual per diem rate (of $53.22).”

Sandy said the federal government will be paying the per diem rate it would be if those inmates were housed in a DOC facility.

He said that would save the department a lot of money.

“That raises $2.7 million, which will pay for the regional jail employees pay raises,” he said.

Employees are having to work up to 16 hour shifts because there are not enough people on staff. Because of low pay and the additional hours, many workers have quit their jobs.

A bill currently in the Senate Government Organization Committee, SB 262, would provide a $6,000 pay raise over a three year period to employees of the Division of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Services and West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority. Employees would get a $2,000 raise each year.

Sandy previously said even with the $6,000 pay increase, West Virginia will only jump from 49th to 40th in the nation in corrections officer pay.

The starting salary for officers is currently $24,664.

Another bill that’s moving in the House of Delegates, HB 4338, would consolidate all three of those agencies into a single division called the “West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” The bill passed the House Finance Committee and is now up for passage in the House Judiciary Committee.

Sandy said his department is doing all they can to cut costs and compensate their employees.

“Although our financial situation in the state is better than it was 12 months ago, I feel that DMAPS is trying to be fiscally responsible and direct the resources where we feel they’re most needed at this time,” he said.

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