CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — There is a new and unique idea on the table to try to fix West Virginia’s corrections crisis, and it could involve inviting new residents to move here.
While West Virginia is in short supply of corrections officers, it does have plenty of others who may already be qualified.
According to state officials, West Virginia has more than 1,000 vacant jobs at its prisons and jails, with 700 of those positions for correctional officers. The Mountain State also has one of the highest rates of military retirees in the nation.
Now, a group known as “Vets for Vet Leadership” is suggesting that the recruiting of military retires from within the state, and from out of state, to fill many of those positions.
“Establish a relationship with the Department of Defense Skill Bridge Program. Because every military branch has correctional officers and military police. And I think that West Virginia is missing the boat because we haven’t set up a direct placement program,” said Capt. James McCormick (Ret.), a Veterans Advocate with Vets for Vet Leadership.
There have been calls to Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) by many people to call a special session of the legislature to deal with the corrections shortages, but so far, the governor has not issued that order.
One of the biggest problems is low pay. Neighboring states and the federal government pay their corrections officers far more than West Virginia. So many from here leave for higher salaries elsewhere.
Much of the legislature will already be here Sunday for the monthly interim committee meetings, so a special session might be called to coincide with that.