Holding cells could help law enforcement keep West Virginia safe

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – With only 10 jails in West Virginia, transporting criminal suspects used to be a difficult task for law enforcement. That was until legislation signed by Gov. Jim Justice last year allowed the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation to build holding cells as dropping-off points. 

Transporting arrestees was a lengthy process for law enforcement. Police officers in Monongalia, Marion and Wood counties would have to drive to Doddridge County and back. While their colleagues in Fayette, Greenbrier and Monroe counties faced a Raleigh County round trip. 

Three holding cells have opened so far in West Virginia: Wood County Holding Center in Parkersburg, Saint Mary’s Correctional Center in Pleasants County and Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County.

“Being able to transport prisoners to the Wood County Holding Center in Parkersburg has greatly improved our ability to get our officers back on patrol,” said Wirt County Chief Deputy G.M. Deem. “The 20-minute drive to Parkersburg is far better than the two-hour round trip to the North Central Regional Jail.”

According to the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the holding cells have saved law enforcement in multiple ways:

  • Saved 1,300 man-hours 
  • Saved 80,000 vehicle miles between July 1, 2018 and March 2019. 
  • The resulted savings to taxpayers is estimated at $75,000 and counting in personnel and vehicle wear-and-tear costs. 

“Those are staggering numbers. The Police Department is appreciative of the new system,” said Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin. “This has financially benefited my agency.”

The Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which is part of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, is expecting to open additional holding cells soon in Randolph and Mason Counties. 

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