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W.Va. Corrections commissioner says state of emergency needs to continue

By Roger Adkins, HD Media

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state of emergency declared last August in the West Virginia jail and prison system will need to continue past the one-year mark, the state corrections commissioner said Sunday.

Staffing shortfalls haven’t changed, and the 334 members of the West Virginia Army National Guard currently filling the vacancies will need to remain, to maintain day-to-day operations, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Commissioner William Marshall said.

“I’m not sure what we would actually do without them right now,” Marshall said Sunday during a meeting of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority at the state Capitol.

The department is seeking an extension of the state of emergency, because it is unlikely that enough correctional officers can be hired by August, Marshall said.

The cost to employ the Guard members filling out state rosters over the past year stands at $17 million, Marshall said.

Committee Co-chairman Del. David Kelly, R-Tyler, said he hopes Gov. Jim Justice will call a special legislative session to address the issue.

“I think you would agree with me that having the National Guard in there, that’s unsustainable,” Kelly said. “And it’s also unsustainable to think we could expect to have our officers in this state working 60, 70, 80 hours a week, week-in and week-out.” …

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