"You have a greater likelihood of injury as well as being a victim of some type of assault or other things within a dangerous environment if you've worked too many hours and you're tired and run down," DeLong said.
"The No. 1 issue when they leave is burnout."
In a pilot program, the South Central Regional Jail added 14 officers in June and greatly reduced overtime from 4,569 hours to 1,005 hours in one month.
Expanding the program to all 10 regional jails by hiring 125 more officers could save taxpayers as much as $2 million.
While saving money is important, safety, recruitment and retention are important reasons as well.
With the federal prison system offering $15,000 a year more to guards, West Virginia cannot hope to win a bidding war.
But better pay would help. Lawmakers should try to raise pay and get those 150 vacancies filled.