"While it seems a little counterintuitive that adding employees would bring a cost savings, we have discussed it enough to be quite comfortable with it," Hamilton said.
The staffing plan would not be affected if the recommendations of the Council of State Government's Justice Center, which are meant to alleviate prison overcrowding, are adopted and successful in reducing the number of state prison inmates, DeLong said.
All of the overcrowding in the regional jails is attributable to Division of Corrections inmates being housed in the jails because state prisons are full, he said. If the recommendations are successful, the jail populations will drop back to the original design capacities for the facilities.
"If the Council of State Governments' work is all enacted, and is highly successful ... it's only going to relieve the overpopulation of inmates that weren't intended to be here," he said.
The jails require a certain minimum staffing level, regardless of the number of inmates, DeLong said.
"If you have one person in the tower, whether they're watching 130 people or 170 people, you still need that person in the tower," he said.
The hiring plan will have to be signed off on by the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the Division of Personnel.
DeLong said there should be no problem finding applicants to fill the new positions at most of the regional jails.
"In eight of our 10 facilities, we are not having problems getting applicants," he said.
He said the exceptions are at two of the more rural locations, the Tygarts Valley Regional Jail in Barbour County and the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.