by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Former Mayor Let Go as Superintendent of Western Regional Jail; 230 Convicted Felons part of overcrowding

The West Virginia "successfully " completed an seven month mission to supplement correctional officers at the under staffed jails. In fact, the WV Department of Corrections took control of the jails --- replacing the regional jail authority --- July 1. 

Despite prior statements about staff and administration, former Huntington Mayor . Cabell County Sheriff and Huntington Police officer Kim Wolfe has been "immediately terminated" from his "at will" position as superintendent of the Western Regional Jail, which he had held for over a year. Jeff Sandy, cabinet secretary , previously assured him his position was secure. 

The letter signed was signed  Betsy Jividen, Commissioner. It was hand delivered by  Mike Coleman and Paul Simmons. Paul Simmons made the comment “not personal just changing direction. “ 

Wolfe told HNN, " Best to the future leadership at the Jail, but success is impossible until the workforce is stable and the inmate population reduced." In fact, during a Glenville meeting recently, Wolfe voiced concerns. 

" I voiced my concerns at a meeting of all the leadership at the academy in Glenville. Specifically, I said , I have very serious concerns about the over crowding and being understaffed ... Last week, our inmate population adveraged between 825-850 and we have 590 beds.  Our work force  was down  appropriately 30 Corrections Officers."

Wolfe acknowledged that the jail has issues . One of them... not sending felons to prison. 

"I may have hit a nerve, when I requested  could the appropriately 230 convicted felons we are housing be sent to prison because of the over crowding. The answer was No."

He indicated that some former co-workers and leadership  had told him, "if they really knew you , they would have never fired you.”

Wolfe said if the transfers were made the prisons would become over crowded. He called it a "Catch 22... leave the jails vastly overcrowded or start overcrowding the prisons."

During the last few months of his watch, the Western Regional accidentally released the wrong inmate, had eight overdoses, and an inmate died in the jail August 1. 

Accused murder Argie Lee Jeffers Sr., 74, charged in connection with the concealment and dismemberment of a Guyandotte woman had asked Cabell County Court to release him on home confinement due to "deplorable" conditions. 

"The solution is  to bring in a stable work force and reduce inmate population, no superintendent can succeed until that happens." Wolfe suggested that correctional officers from the prisons be brought in to supplement and stabilize the jails.

Although he declined to be more specific, Wolfe did acknowledge, that many of the incarcerated misdemeanor inmates belong in mental health treatment, substance abuse recovery, or require treatment of medical conditions not offered in jail or on the street.

Regarding jail conditions  --- one of which involves substandard food not meant for human consumption   --- Wolfe did not address any specifically. "Complaints are common, some are legitimate, many are not." he said. 

He gave Mr. Sandy credit along with Governor Jim Justice, though,  for "getting a long overdue pay raise to correctional officers," who often work five 16 hour shifts weekly. Those jobs are "not for everyone," Wolfe explained:

"Tough situation, I think [the raises'] will eventually help, but we continue to hire and only were retaining about 20% because of different reasons, job not for everyone ... mostly long hours."

Of the CO's on staff , they do not complain.

"It’s amazing to me the COs  continue to work such long hours and never complain, I always tried to thank them everyday," Wolfe said.

Describing himself as not "bitter," he pondered why he was (to date) the only individual who has been let go. 

"I did voice my concern that with over 50 years of public service , military, police officer, Sheriff and Mayor I was always loyal, honest and hard working."  

The former Mayor reminded that during his term crime in the city was reduced and the pension funds were saved from bankruptcy.

Kim look to God for direction of his "next adventure."