CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Regional Jail Authority is covering a lot of ground in a series of meetings being staged in jail communities across the state.
The authority is holding public meetings to discuss programs at each of its 10 facilities. Director Joe DeLong said it has offered a chance for local officials and the public to learn who the players are in the jail system when there are problems which need to be addressed. He said it’s also good public policy.
“The jails are a partner with local communities. That’s who we serve and that’s our customer base,” DeLong said. “A lot of these meetings are about transparency. We want them to understand what we’re doing and how we’re trying to make things better.”
DeLong said a good example came in a recent meeting where a lengthy discussion broke out about medical care within the jail. Some judges were unsure how to write orders to include prescription medication. The meetings included the jail’s healthcare provider to discuss the best way to handle the tricky language and who to call if there were questions.
The same goes for the substance abuse treatment ongoing in the system. DeLong said too often inmates get good treatment inside, but once released have no idea where to go to continue the programs and normally will relapse back into bad habits.
“Instead of the jails doing all of the programming ourselves and then trying to give people a list of community based services, we should actually partner with those community based services,” DeLong said. “That way the people who are offering the rehab and treatment on the inside would be the same people who continue the support services on the outside.”
DeLong said those attending the meetings have run the gamut. Many include judges, prosecutors, sheriffs and other elected leaders down to normal taxpayers who want to know more about he process of incarceration.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday at the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg.
Other scheduled meetings include:
July 17: North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County;
Aug. 14: South Central Regional Jail in South Charleston;
Sept. 18: Central Regional Jail in Flatwoods;
Oct. 2: Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Elkins;
Oct. 16: Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville; and
Nov. 6: Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.