Tri-State jails dealing with shortage of correction officers

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HENDERSON COUNTY, Ky. (WEHT) – Several Tri-State jails are facing a growing problem, a lack of people wanting to work as correctional officers. The shortage comes during Correctional Officer Awareness Week, a time set aside to honor those people with inmates. 

“Everyday these men and women that work here come into an uncertain area everyday, even pre-covid,” explained Henderson County Detention Center Captain Eddie Vaught. 

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak at the Henderson County Detention Center, there are new concerns about keeping the jail staffed.

Officials say up to 52 positions are open and many aren’t being filled due to a lack of qualified applicants. The shortage is forcing current staff members to work overtime to keep the jail operational. The COVID outbreak is only making matters worse. 

“It’s definitely an added challenge,” said Henderson County Detention Center Captain Megan McElfresh. “I think for some people they may be fearful to come out, but I think as time has gone on people are a little more comfortable.” 

Our Eyewitness News cameras were allowed inside the jail to see up close and personal where inmates positive with COVID-19 are housed. Officials say amid the outbreak, there’s no time for rest. 

“Sometimes they may not get two days off and they may have split days and then you have people like myself and Captain Vaught that do our normal everyday job Monday through Friday and then come in on a Saturday and Sunday and work a shift or run shift,” McElfresh said. 

Officials say they have their work cut out for them, but they are hopeful for ome brighter days ahead.

This isn’t just a problem in Henderson but also several other Tri-State counties. In Vanderburgh County, Sheriff Dave Wedding said the jail is also facing a shortage of correctional officers. Wedding said there are not enough qualified applicants.

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