West Virginia has a severe shortage of correctional officers. As of July 2015, the state had 217 vacancies for correctional officers statewide according to an interview with Joe Thornton, the secretary of the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety in Metro News.
Slightly more than half of these vacancies are at two facilities:
- Huttonsville Correctional Center Randolph County
- Mount Olive Correctional Complex Fayette County
Of the vacancies in regional jails, 68 positions are needed at:
- North Central Regional Jail – Doddridge County
- Potomac Highlands Regional Jail – Hampshire County
- South Central Regional Jail – Kanawha County
Juvenile services is also experiencing a shortage of correctional officers, with 51 positions to fill across West Virginia as of September 2015.
Thornton ordered a change in the hiring requirements as a way to increase the number of applications. Applicants no longer need to have a year of previous work experience.
Policymakers suggest a number of changes to reduce the number of vacancies for correctional officers. One is to change the scheduling from three eight-hour shifts to two 12-hour shifts. This should make it easier for correctional officers who want to work overtime, but don’t want to work 16-hour shifts.
Another suggestion is to provide differential pay and incentives to correctional officers for positions as West Virginia’s high-security prisons. An additional measure is underway to reward longevity with automatic incremental increases in pay.
The West Virginia Department of Corrections typically has openings for correctional officers from level I to level V, correctional counselors, and corrections case managers. Most of the state’s facilities have vacancies at any given time, and the WVDOC encourages qualified candidates to apply for these positions.