HD Media

HUNTINGTON - Would-be correctional officers and staff in West Virginia can score a $2,370 pay boost, in addition to locked-in raises both this year and next, if they join the state payroll by June 30.

All correctional employees will receive a $2,000 pay raise July 1. That will bring the starting salary of an entry-level correctional officer, for instance, to $28,664.

But the 5% hike for all state employees passed during the last legislative session will deliver the extra $2,370 for potential recruits - if they join the state payroll before the current budget year ends.

Correctional employees are also guaranteed an additional $2,000 raise July 1, 2020. The benefits package for starting officers, meanwhile, is valued at $13,776.

It includes comprehensive indemnity health insurance, term life insurance and a defined benefit pension plan. Accompanying these benefits and multiple raises is a clear career advancement path for officers.

Gov. Jim Justice proposed the pay raises in 2018 in response to a staffing crisis in the state's regional jail system. The hope was the pay increase would entice more to join the ranks of correctional officers. In June 2018, after the first pay increase implementation, the correctional system had filled 67% of its vacancies since March, though there were still 125 vacancies in the regional jail system.

There are currently about 145 open correctional officer positions across the 10 jails, for a vacancy rate of 18%, said Lawrence Messina, communications director for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. He said while vacancies and turnover remain challenges, one promising indicator is that about 100 more entry-level officers (COIs) have started than have departed so far this budget year.

The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation held its final hiring event Thursday, in Elkins, before the new state budget year begins July 1.

Corrections and Rehabilitation previously held one-stop career events at Clarksburg, Parkersburg and Charleston. More information is available at https://dcr.wv.gov.