The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (WVDOCR) operates a network of 10 regional jails serving all 55 counties, as well as 12 state prisons (referred to as correctional centers or correctional facilities) and more juvenile detention facilities and youth reporting centers. In addition to these facilities, West Virginia also houses six federal correctional centers.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, as of 2021, West Virginia’s incarceration rate is 713 per 100,000 people, higher than the incarceration rate in any other democracy within the United States or internationally. State prisons house the most of West Virginia’s inmates, at 7100, followed by local jails at 3300, federal prisons at 1800, youth facilities at 570, and involuntary commitment facilities at 130. This does not include the estimated 34,000 who cycle through West Virginia’s local jails each year.
Another notable difference in West Virginia’s prison population is the inordinate rate at which women are incarcerated in the state. West Virginia incarcerates 179 women per 100,000 people, higher than the national average and higher than the female incarceration rate in many other countries.
West Virginia’s large prison and jail population needs well-trained, stalwart and determined individuals to supervise it. Correctional officers in West Virginia are the first-line workers who deal with inmates on a daily basis, and are involved in virtually all aspects of inmates’ lives.
WHAT DOES A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DO
WVDOCR employs correctional officers to ensure that safety and discipline is maintained within its correctional facilities. They are accepting applications for Correctional Officer I, the entry-level position, on a continuous basis in order to build a list of eligible candidates. These positions are located in adult prisons, regional jails, and juvenile centers.
Some of the duties that a correctional officer in West Virginia is expected to perform include:
- Observing and monitoring inmates to detect any unusual or outlawed behavior and maintain custody and control within the facility
- Perform counts at regular intervals to insure inmate accountability
- Escort inmates to and from areas of the facility
- Search persons, personal property, and areas of inmates
- Supervise inmates in performing assigned tasks
- Conduct and assist with intake and discharge procedures for inmates
- Maintain public safety and control inmates by enforcing rules, regulations and laws and reporting violations
- Transporting inmates to and from correctional facilities
- Listening and responding appropriately to inmate requests, problems and complaints
- Recognizing and responding to actual or potential emergencies
- Handle and operate security and communications equipment and firearms as directed
- Perform safety and sanitation inspections
- Oversee cleaning of facility areas and inmate hygiene activities
Knowledge, skills and abilities that are desirable in a West Virginia correctional officer include:
- Knowledge of correctional security, treatment and support program operations
- Knowledge of rules, regulations and state law
- Ability to read and understand training materials, policies, procedures etc.
- Ability to follow verbal and written instructions and a formal chain of command
- Ability to enforce rules, regulations and state law
- Ability to provide an accurate count of inmates
- Ability to safely use mechanical restraints, weapons and firearms
- Ability to operate a motor vehicle
- Ability to run, jump, climb stairs and physically restrain violent inmates
- Ability to plan, organize and direct inmate activities
- Ability to resolve inmate problems and conflicts and to handle their requests
BECOMING A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER IN WEST VIRGINIA
Those who want to apply to be a correctional officer in West Virginia must first meet these requirements:
- Be at least 18
- Be a high school graduate or have a GED (online high school graduates and online GEDs are not accepted)
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Possess a social security card
- Possess a birth certificate
- No felony convictions on record
- Have comfortable shoes
- Be willing to maintain a telephone at your residence while you are employed
Additionally, prospective corrections officers in West Virginia must complete the following before employment will be offered:
- Complete an online behavioral assessment (may be done by appointment only at West Virginia correctional centers or WorkForce WV offices)
- Psychological evaluation
- Background investigation
- Physical examination
- Oral interview
- Chemical urinalysis drug-screening test
- Meet physical standards
Applications are accepted online only at governmentjobs.com/careers/wv. When filling out the application, make sure to mark all of the types of facilities in which you are willing to work. You may schedule to take the online behavioral assessment prior to applying or after you have applied, but must take it within 90 days of applying for a job. If you fail the assessment, you must wait 180 days to re-apply and re-take the assessment. If you pass, your score will remain active for one year.
West Virginia Education and Certification Requirements for Correctional Officers
WEST VIRGINIA EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS
The WVDOCR requires all newly hired correctional officers to attend the division’s Training Academy, located in Glenville, WV. Six or seven weeks of training are taken, in a residential format, with two Basic Training classes offered each quarter of the training year, running concurrently. (Seven weeks of training are needed if your position requires you to carry a firearm). Training occurs eight hours a day. Cadets will perform work details, stand inspections, participate in fitness training and be subject to curfew. Their personal behaviors and habits will be closely monitored by staff supervisors. Cadets travel from their assigned correctional facility on Monday mornings, stay at the Academy through the week, and come home on the weekends.
After they have been hired, West Virginia correctional officers must complete a minimum number of continuing education hours yearly.
OPTIONAL PATH TO CERTIFICATION
If you have experience in working in corrections, law enforcement, social services, emergency medical technician, firefighter, or the clergy, that experience may be considered by the WVDOCR when you are applying for a correctional officer position. You will still need to attend some pre-employment training regardless of your education or prior experience.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREES
The WVDOCR does not require correctional officers to have a college degree for entry-level positions. If you do have any post-high school education, you must provide an official transcript or training record at the time you apply for a position.
WEST VIRGINIA CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SALARY
The WVDOCR is currently offering a special hiring rate of $33,214 per year as an incentive for Correctional Officer I. The usual salary range for this position is $26,333 to $48,716 per year.
After you have completed a 12-month probationary period as a Correctional Officer I, you will be reallocated to Correctional Officer II, with a pay increase to the next pay grade. There are seven levels of Correctional Officer, so much room for advancement is offered. You may also have the opportunity to join special operations teams such as K-9, Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), and Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT). If you have more education or experience, you may also be able to advance into non-uniformed positions such as Correctional Counselor or Probation and Parole Officer.
The West Virginia Division of Personnel also offers employees attractive benefits, such as:
- Medical insurance
- Mountaineer Flexible Benefits (optional insurance)
- Life insurance
- Retirement plan
- Deferred compensation
- Annual increment pay
- 12 paid holidays each year
- Generous vacation days (starting at 15 days/year for those who have worked less than 5 years)
- Military leave
- Paid sick leave of 5.55 hours per bi-weekly pay period, or 18 days per year
- Family medical leave
- Leave donation program
- Credit union
- Day care
- Wellness programs
WEST VIRGINIA CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOB PROSPECTS
Applications for correctional officer jobs are accepted continuously at governmentjobs.com/careers/wv, and job openings are posted there when available.
TOP EMPLOYERS FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS IN WEST VIRGINIA
WVDOCR is the employer of state and regional correctional officer positions. If you are interested in becoming a federal correctional officer, there are six federal correctional complexes in West Virginia:
- FPC Alderson – Alderson, WV- minimum security federal prison camp, housing 642 female inmates
- FCI Beckley – Beaver, WV – medium security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, housing 1695 male inmates
- FCI Gilmer – Glenville, WV – medium security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, housing 1685 male inmates
- FCC Hazelton –Bruceton Mills, WV a federal correctional complex consisting of:
- FCI Hazelton, a medium security federal correctional institution with a secure female facility, housing 1656 male inmates and 513 female inmates
- USP Hazelton, a high security US Penitentiary with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, housing 1581 male inmates
- FCI McDowell, a medium security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, housing 1498 male inmates
- FCI Morgantown, a minimum security federal correctional institution, housing 463 male inmates
Available jobs in federal corrections will be posted at usajobs.gov when available.