By VICKI SMITH | The Associated Press
PRUNTYTOWN, W.Va. — …corrections officers are fleeing the state’s regional jails and prisons for better-paying jobs. With the 49th-lowest starting salary in the nation, it’s no surprise.
“I have officers on food stamps,” says Warden David Ballard, who on any given day has dozens of vacancies at the state’s maximum-security prison, the Mount Olive Correctional Center.
West Virginia’s starting salary for a full-time correctional officer is just $22,584 — ahead of only Mississippi, where they start about $500 lower — and less than $800 below the federal poverty level for a family of four.
…West Virginia also has the nation’s worst inmate-to-guard ratio in prisons and ranks in the top 10 states for turnover. The Division of Corrections says nearly 17 percent of its employees quit last year…the shortage is so severe that Ballard has imposed a mandatory 60-hour week. It’s not ideal, he acknowledges, but officers generally prefer it to other schedules he’s experimented with because they can get two consecutive days off…
“You have inmates all day yelling at you, throwing urine and feces at you, yelling they’re going to rape your wife …” says Ballard, “and all that for $22,000 a year.” (Full text at WTOV9.com)
When you put things in their proper perspective, California Co’s are fortunate despite decreasing wages and benefits. Your brethren in other states, West Virgina being but one example, are living in poverty–They are the working poor.
Paco realizes it not exactly comforting knowing the plight of others is worse than your own–It should be no comfort at all. Just the same, it is worth counting your collective good fortune in, at least, being compensated solidly at the middle class level, rather than below the poverty line.
My hat is off to the CO’s of West Virgina — I WOULD NOT do the job at those wages. –