Feb. 17, 2022
W.Va. Legislature marks Corrections Day 2022
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Legislature on Thursday recognized the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, including for their ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state Senate and House of Delegates marked Corrections Day at the Legislature with resolutions in their respective chambers. The DCR Honor Guard posted the colors to start the House's floor session, and agency chaplains helped lead each chamber in morning prayer.
"We've talked about heroes that work in our hospitals, and first responders," said Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel. "These people aren't first responders. They are 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week responders that have a very, very difficult job to do."
The resolutions salute the employees of DCR for “enhancing public safety, promoting offender accountability, and successfully reintegrating offenders into society."
Legislators cited the pandemic as “a public health crisis not seen in a century" that “presents an even greater threat to health and safety in a congregate setting such as a prison, jail, or juvenile facility." DCR staff “perform dangerous duties that have been amplified by the pandemic," but “have adapted to this challenge by successfully implementing numerous additional safety protocols and procedures," the resolutions said.
They further note that “the dedicated men and women of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation are working extensive overtime to maintain safe facilities because of significant staffing shortages due the pandemic."
DCR has recorded 2,342 positive COVID-19 tests among its staff, including contract employees, with 65 active cases as of Thursday. Four DCR correctional officers have died while hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020. A contract employee assigned to a non-residential Youth Reporting died last week, possibly of COVID-19; further medical information is pending.
"It is an incredible honor for the men and women of the DCR to be recognized in this special way by the House and the Senate, for the service they perform every day to protect the public in the face of challenges and hardships, exacerbated by the pandemic, that most cannot even imagine," said Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen. "Our people serve with distinction and continue to persevere, and on their behalf I want to extend a special 'Thank You' to the Legislature for honoring them today."
During a Thursday afternoon ceremony at the Capitol, Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy honored three legislators for their support of DCR.
Sandy presented honorary Homeland Security badges to Clements and Delegates Tom Fast, R-Fayette, and David Kelly, R-Tyler. All three have co-chaired the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority. Kelly is chair of the House Select Committee on Jails and Prisons, created this session, with Fast among its members. Sandy, whose department includes DCR, named the three honorary members of Homeland Security.
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