Low Pay, Understaffing Issues at West Virginia Prisons

July 24, 2013

Low pay, understaffing and overcrowding are creating safety concerns at West Virginia’s prisons.

Media outlets report that union and corrections officials discussed the issues Monday during an interim legislative oversight committee meeting.

Communications Workers of America organizer Jack Ferrell told lawmakers that low pay for correctional officers is the biggest problem. He says it has resulted in high turnover.

Ferrell says officers also suffer from burnout due to working long hours.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said that understaffing has become a problem at the Huttonsville Correctional Facility. As of June, the prison needed 39 additional officers to be fully staffed.

Both Ferrell and Rubenstein say most inmates behave. But they say a small percentage are troublemakers, which puts correctional officers at risk.

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