CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security’s investigation into allegations of poor conditions at Southern Regional Jail did not find evidence of poor conditions.
Reports alleging inmates in the Southern Regional Jail Quarantine Unit had no drinking water, no mattresses, no running water in their cells, and that inmates were drinking from toilets and smearing feces on the wall were ordered to be investigated in March of 2022 by Governor Jim Justice.
At the conclusion of the investigation, West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy said the state found all of these claims to be false.
“The investigation showed that water was readily available to all inmates, including in segregation and in the infirmary, the medical area,” said Sandy. “Concerning mattresses, the same information. The invoices showed the purchases of mattresses. A walkthrough of the facility which was unannounced, on the day the Governor announced the investigation, showed every inmate had a mattress.”
During the course of the investigation, Sandy claimed he interviewed more than fifty people at Southern Regional Jail about the conditions alleged in the report. He claimed everyone he spoke to, sentenced inmates and guards alike, told him there were no such problems.
“One individual who will probably be serving a decade in the facility, who it did not help him at all to talk to us, said, ‘Mr. Sandy, they’re just saying that because they’ll do anything to try to get out of here,” said Sandy.
Sandy added the guards who corroborate the allegations of poor conditions at S.R.J., may be trying to retaliate against their current or former employer.
According to Sandy, inmates and guards are encouraged to file grievances about issues they experience at Southern Regional Jail. But over the last twelve months, all the way back to April 2021, no grievances were filed concerning the alleged issues.
“There was not one grievance at Southern Regional Jail concerning the issues at hand,” said Sandy. “The water, the toilet paper, drinking from the commode and the mattresses.”
When asked why the Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation rather than hiring a third-party organization, Sandy said Governor Justice asked him personally to lead the investigation.