Justice heralds new era for W.Va. public safety with signing of correctional
pay raise, consolidation bills
W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice reinforced his commitment to
keeping West Virginians safe on Thursday with the ceremonial signing of
legislation providing major pay raises to correctional employees while
streamlining and modernizing the state’s corrections system.
The pay raise legislation, House Bill 4142, will increase wages
across-the-board at the Division of Corrections, Regional Jail Authority and
Division of Juvenile Services by a total of $6,000 within two years, starting
Governor Justice had championed the
correctional pay increases as part of his legislative agenda. These pay hikes
are in addition to the raises for teachers, state troopers and other state
employees that also passed this session. On Thursday, he cited how such raises were
out of the question just a year ago.
“Today, West Virginia is on a better path,”
Governor Justice said. “This gives me great pride, to do not only goodness but
just what’s right. It’s just what’s right.”
Military Affairs and Public Safety
Secretary Jeff Sandy explained how the legislation will deliver a tremendous
boost to starting correctional officers who sign on before July 1.
“This bill has an opportunity to take those individuals from
$24,000 to $32,000 over the next three years,” said Secretary Sandy said of HB
4142. “But rather than just putting money out there, this bill also develops a
career path so those correctional officers know what their futures will be.”
The other legislation signed Thursday will
unify most of West Virginia’s corrections-related operations within a new
Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This new agency will include a
Bureau of Prison and Jails, a separate Juvenile Services Bureau, and a
Community Corrections Bureau to consolidate and streamline the existing three
The new Division of Corrections and
Rehabilitation and its companion Division of Administrative Services, also
created by House Bill 4338, will
remain part of the W.Va. Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
Secretary Sandy launched this monumental overhaul of the Mountain State’s
correctional operations immediately following his appointment by Governor
Justice in late 2016.
Among its numerous benefits, House Bill
4338 will leverage the buying power for the state’s prisons, regional jails and
juvenile facilities by allowing them to unify their contracts for medical,
dental, mental health, food, equipment and other goods and services for the
first time. It similarly unifies numerous functions including bookkeeping, human
resources, payroll, transport, offender classification, education and
rehabilitation, and construction and engineering.
“This is about what our government is supposed to do,” Governor
The bill’s three-year cap keeping the “per
diem” cost for housing inmates at $48.25 will benefit counties and
municipalities. It will also help law enforcement reduce costs and travel time,
meanwhile, by dropping off arrestees at designation holding cells at
correctional facilities if they’re closer that the area’s regional jail.
Sandy also noted that the savings expected
from the consolidation will help DMAPS absorb what would be the counties’ share
of the costs from the correctional pay raises, as regional jails’ operational
funding comes from the per diem payments.
House Bill 4338 takes effect July 1, while
setting a deadline for its implementation of July 1, 2019.