CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An investigation into the Southern Regional Jail found no instances of inmates lacking access to water and toilet paper or people having to sleep on floors without mattresses.
The Office of the Governor released the findings of the investigation on Thursday. Gov. Jim Justice ordered the state Department of Homeland Security to conduct the inquiry into the Beaver facility following reports of inmates receiving poor treatment.
“Our investigators talked with a bunch of people and pulled a bunch of records and, at the end of the day, they determined that the allegations were simply not true,” Justice said in a statement.
The investigation involved interviewing more than 50 people as well as reviewing inmates’ telephone calls and the jail’s financial records. Investigators noted interview subjects included a former employee who raised concerns about the Southern Regional Jail who had “left under well documented employment issues” and another employee who admitted they never witnessed inmates being denied access to water.
According to the investigation, inmates can obtain water with a sink located within their cell or water fountains placed in large common areas. Staff and inmates noted to investigators that access may be turned off in events of vandalism. Inmates placed in separate units for disciplinary or coronavirus-related reasons do not have continuous access, but staff still provide these inmates with three meals a day and a drinking tumbler.
None of the interviewed inmates noted a shortage of toilet paper; one person told investigators about cells with “over a dozen rolls of toilet paper.”
Investigators also said there are no records of inmates “filing grievances for being deprived of mattresses.”
“Unfortunately, our interviews and review of phone calls and other records indicate that these allegations appear to be a misguided attempt by some inmates and their family and friends to use the news media to spread false and misleading information as a means of getting released,” DHS Secretary Jeff Sandy said.
“Inmates yelled at family and friends for not telling the story the way the inmate wanted the media to hear it. After hearing what a family member told the media, one inmate said, ‘Now I will never get out of here.'”