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National Guard drawdown in West Virginia jails begins

CHARLESTON  West Virginia Governor Jim Justice calls for reduction in national guard staffing in state prisons.


In August of 2022, Governor Justice declared a state of emergency due to critical staff shortages in the state’s correctional facilities. Soldiers in the West Virginia National Guard began serving in those short-staffed jails. 


Following the declaration, the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation received fifty members from the national guard. That number, according to state Corrections Commissioner Billy Marshall, has since grown to more than three hundred individuals.


As of this year, however, efforts are being made to reduce the number of national guard members working in West Virginia’s jails.


During his State of the State Address this month, Governor Justice announced the drawdown initiative following a six-month span of hiring within the Division of Corrections, during which vacancies have fallen to more acceptable numbers. According to Commissioner Marshall, the reported trend of steadily decreasing vacancies in staff is promising


This increased hiring rate comes after last year’s raises passed by the legislature and raising the maximum age of entry for correctional officers. 


Marshall told reporters last week that steps were being taken to ensure a smooth transition for the national guard staff.


“They’ll be given a few days, maybe a week or more, in order to make arrangements to go back to their normal orders or their former employers,” Marshall said.


However, not every national guard member wants to leave employment in Division of Corrections. According to the commissioner, eight individuals have accepted full-time positions and around fifty others are considering the opportunity.


Marshall announced the end of duties for guard members at the Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County and the Prunytown Correctional Center in Taylor. The reduction plan could be complete by the end of summer.



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