CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia state official says the solution to chronic shortages for correctional officers at state prisons, regional jails and juvenile facilities is to appropriate enough money to make officers' salaries competitive.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports newly hired state director of correctional recruiting, Joseph Tyree, told legislators on Sunday that he believes the shortages could be resolved if the starting salary for correctional officers was increased to somewhere between $30,000 and $32,000, with proportionate increases for current staff. The starting salary is $26,000 for correctional officers.

Tyree says low pay makes it difficult to recruit qualified employees or to keep them from leaving for higher pay in neighboring states or at federal correctional facilities.

Tyree says things could get worse with more experienced correctional officers approaching retirement age.