DeLong to step down as W.Va. regional jails chief
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From the Office of the Secretary
West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety
Joe Thornton, Cabinet Secretary
Contact: Lawrence Messina
February 2, 2015
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Following a three-year tenure during which West Virginia’s regional jail system made significant gains in such areas as staff conditions, inmate safety and financial soundness, Executive Director Joe DeLong announced his plans Monday to resign from the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority.
DeLong will step down March 31 to pursue other opportunities. DeLong was named acting executive director in January 2012, and the RJA board voted to make him the agency’s permanent chief that August.
“I plan to spend my remaining days in this position advocating strongly for measures that would improve the conditions, careers and futures of RJA employees, particularly the officers in the field,” DeLong said.
DeLong played a key role in an array of improvements to the 10-facility network of regional jails. They include:
A reduction in the daily fee paid by counties, municipalities and other government entities that house inmates at the jails, when compared to a decade ago. This per diem fee has remained unchanged for a third consecutive fiscal year, helping counties and others budget for these costs.
A 34 percent decline in mandatory overtime since 2012, after DeLong oversaw the development of a revamped scheduling system.
A 44 percent drop in claims filed against RJA since 2011. Under DeLong’s leadership, RJA has taken several steps to protect both jail staff and inmates. These include the ongoing project that has so far placed surveillance cameras in 70 percent of the spaces in the regional jails that house inmates. This project remains on schedule for completion this August.
Within a year of DeLong becoming executive director, RJA began receiving “clean” or issue-free findings from independent auditors. This improvement followed a reorganization of RJA’s financial office and a targeting of previously identified accounting issues.
DeLong also completed a series of a meetings last year at each of the regional jails, to explain RJA’s finances and recent gains to local leaders and field their suggestions for improving the system further.
“I firmly believe that we have accomplished much together over the past couple of years,” DeLong said in his Monday announcement to the RJA board. “In addition to the support of the RJA board, I have been blessed with being surrounded by an amazing team of professionals.”
DeLong’s record of public service includes four terms in West Virginia’s House of Delegates. Born and raised in Hancock County, DeLong was first elected to represent that area in 2000. He served as House Majority Leader during his final term. DeLong was also previously deputy secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which includes RJA, and joined the Cabinet department in July 2010.
“The state is losing a fine public servant,” said Military Affairs and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Joe Thornton. “Joe’s commitment to excellence is evident in his accomplishments as director of the Regional Jail Authority. His drive and dedication to ensuring the Authority excels in all facets of meeting his public safety mission has been nothing short of spectacular. His ability to identify inefficiencies and develop and implement measures to address them is one of his many attributes as a leader.”