WV Gov. Justice ends jail staffing state of emergency after nearly 2 years

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday he is ending the state of emergency over staffing in the state Department of Corrections.

The Republican governor called on the state National Guard to help stop worker attrition at the state’s jails and prisons almost two years ago now. Last summer, the vacancy rate was more than 30%.

“We’re just always proud to run to the fire,” Gen. William E. Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard said during a briefing with the press Friday.

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Just over 730 members of the state National Guard worked in 17 of the state’s correctional facilities while the state of emergency was in place, Justice said.

Since January 2024, almost 240 people have graduated from the state’s corrections academy. A total of 38 National Guard members assigned to work in the jails and prisons decided to stay on permanently, Crane said.

Last summer, state lawmakers met in a special session to approve over $21 million for correctional officer pay increases, along with two one-time bonuses of $2,294 for other jail staff who are not correctional officers, like kitchen staff.

Justice previously declared a state of emergency for the state’s jails and prisons in 2017.

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