A familiar complaint among commissioners in West Virginia is the rising cost of fees charged by the state's Regional Jail Authority. Those costs are a significant burden for county taxpayers.
But the board that oversees the jail has heard the complaint and was able to drop the fee by 55 cents last October to $48.25 an inmate per day.
Joe DeLong, director of the Regional Jail Authority, told board members this week that he would like to cut the fee even further by hiring more employees to reduce overtime.
In a pilot program, the authority added 14 correctional officers to the staff of the South Central Regional Jail in South Charleston last month and was thereby able to cut overtime to 1,005 hours in June, well under the average of 4,560 hours per month.
The expanded staff should reduce turnover, as officers will no longer have to work 16 to 18 hours at a stretch.
That should reduce burnout and make life better for inmates and staff alike - as well as being lighter on the wallets of taxpayers.
The authority hopes to expand the program to all 10 jails, hiring as many as 125 additional corrections officers, which could save taxpayers $2 million a year.
DeLong has brought a refreshing approach to the management of this vital agency.