CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia correctional officer Larissa Mackall is hoping lawmakers will support a bill that would provide her and other correctional employees a pay raise, she says, they desperately need.
HB 4142 is up for passage in the House of Delegates Monday. It would provide corrections officers with a $6,000 raise over a three-year period. The starting pay for officers currently is $24,664.
“If this bill would pass, it would mean so much and it would also make everyone feel like their job was worth more,” Mackall said.
Mackall works for the the state Division of Juvenile Services. She and eight other correctional employees were recognized Friday during Corrections Day at the state Capitol.
It’s been a tough three years for Mackall. She said she loves her job, but has also had to work long hours due to an increased amount of vacancies within the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
“I’ve worked those 16’s (hours) and it’s rough,” she said. “Countless hours. You miss a lot of time with your family.”
DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy honored the nine employees with the Freedom Award for dedication and perseverance in the line of duty.
The other honorees included:
- Jeremiah Lee Jenkins, correctional officer with the Division of Corrections
- Robin Mauk, corrections program specialist with the Division of Juvenile Services
- Jeremy Dolin, facility director with the Division of Juvenile Services
- Kimberly Wilson, administrative services assistant with the Regional Jail Authority
- Domenico Esposito, field training officer with the Division of Juvenile Services
- Curtis Dixton, corrections investigator, DMAPS Investigations Unit
- Bryan Thompson, enhanced supervision parole officer
- Sgt. Wesley Williams, correctional officer with the Division of Corrections
Sandy said the pay raise bill would allow West Virginia correctional officers to stay with the department for years to come.
“The pay increase is more than just pay. It’s a career path. Working with the Department of Personnel, we’ve developed a career path so someone knows that if they’re hired today and stay with us six years, they know what positions they will have and how much they will make,” Sandy said.
Currently, there are more than 700 vacancies within DMAPS. Sandy said they need to hire more tahn 500 correctional officers.
More than 120 people from multiple DMAPS agencies, including the West Virginia National Guard, completed training this week to be able to work at correctional facilities.
“Morale this week went up — and with the bill for the pay increase this week, morale is at the highest it’s been in over a year,” Sandy said.
The department has reached out to more than 400 former correctional employees about coming back to work if they received a pay raise. Sandy said about 50 of those employees said they would return if the bill passed and was signed into law.