Representatives of correctional officers at the state and federal levels joined together during this  36th annual National Correctional Officers and Employees Week to honor the professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited daily by the men and women working in West Virginia correctional facilities.

“Correctional officers and employees face grave danger daily, but the current pandemic has brought unexpected and unprecedented risks that they are handling bravely, with professionalism,” said Dan Doyle, National Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Elaine Harris, international representative for the Communications Workers of America, which represents officers and employees within the state correctional system, noted, “In addition to working to preserve public safety in the traditional sense, these officers must also be concerned with carrying COVID-19 home to their loved ones and communities. It’s a lot to ask.”

Both Harris and Doyle are vice presidents of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Here in West Virginia, AFGE has been bringing attention to the fact employees at some federal prisons are being exposed to out-of-state prisoners being shipped into the state for quarantine despite inadequate testing; while CWA is looking into concerns that in the state prisons and jails, the quality of some masks provided to employees has been called into question.  

National Correctional Officers Week was created in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. In issuing the proclamation, President Reagan pointed out the many supervisory and complex roles such officers must perform and stated, “The professionalism, dedication and courage exhibited by these officers throughout the performance of these demanding and often conflicting roles deserve our utmost respect.”

“So often, the critical work of correctional officers and employees is overlooked,” Harris said. “It’s high time we take a moment to recognize them.”

Doyle added, “We are thankful that the officers and employees in West Virginia are working hard to maintain the best possible safety standards in order to protect the public, their coworkers and the prisoners, and we will continue to do whatever we can to help ensure that their employers are too.”