CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The executive director of the West Virginia ACLU is hopeful the state Supreme Court will reverse an original order and rule the state Regional Jail Authority can be held liable for the actions of its correctional officers. The High Court announced last week it planned to reconsider the case.
“We believe that guards through the very nature of their employment exercise complete authority and control over the inmates,” WV ACLU Executive Director Jennifer Meinig said. “So we believe if you are an inmate you should be able to attach liability to the jail.”
A female inmate at the Southern Regional Jail claims a correctional officer raped her 17 times in 2009. The Regional Jail Authority filed a motion saying it qualified for immunity under state law because the guard’s actions were beyond his scope of employment. A circuit judge denied the motion but the High Court agreed with the authority in a 4-1 decision. But the Court said last week it would issue a modified opinion in the near future.
Meinig said her organization is very excited the High Court has decided to rehear the case.
“We think it’s a constitutional right for all persons to be free from an invasion of their personal security and bodily integrity is clearly established,” she said.
Chief Justice Robin Davis was the lone dissenting vote in the original order.