Shortage of officers at state prisons Mount Olive - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Shortage of officers at state prisons in WV

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Officers patrol the grounds at Mount Olive Officers patrol the grounds at Mount Olive

Mount Olive Correctional Complex is West Virginia's only maximum security prison.  It is also one of the most understaffed prisons in the state.  

"With our rural location and the nature of the inmates we hold, we have trouble recruiting and retaining officers," said David Ballard, the warden at Mount Olive Correctional Complex.  

The prison has about 180 correctional officers, but it needs more than 50 to be fully staffed. Ballard says the stressful nature of the job is exacerbated by 60 hour work weeks and little pay.  Other prisons in the state also suffer from staff shortages.  

"13 to 14 hours a day I am gone from my family, and sometimes for eight to ten days in a row," said Ami Hedrick, a correctional officer.  

Despite the difficult nature of the job, many women have joined the ranks of this law enforcement profession.  At Mount Olive, at least 20 percent of correctional officers are female.  

"We all go through life searching for something that we feel comfortable doing and that we are good at, and I think I've found that," said Hedrick.  

Like any job in law enforcement, challenges also come with rewards. Ballard said that many of the inmates never had a decent home life, and most officers believe it is their responsibility to help the inmates acclimate themselves with the rest of society.

To find out how to apply for a job at the Division of Corrections, you can visit their website:

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