CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An investigation of conditions at a West Virginia jail has found no evidence of inhumane treatment of inmates, Gov. Jim Justice said Thursday.
The Republican governor ordered the investigation last month after a TV station reported allegations of water deprivation, failure to provide toilet paper, and inmates having to sleep on hard floors without a mattress at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.
“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 by the state Department of Homeland Security determined inmates have continuous access to water at sinks in their cells and an industrial water fountain in each section of the jail. Every inmate is provided tumblers for water consumption and the jail maintains a minimum three-day supply of bottled water for emergencies.
In addition, inmates receive three drinks each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including those in segregation and quarantine units.
There was no history of medical cases of dehydration and no inmates filing grievances for being deprived of water, according to jail records.
In addition, ample toilet paper is provided to inmates, while the jail buys new mattresses for inmates regularly, according to the investigation. Also, corrections officers talk to each inmate to assess their mental state and to ensure their personal needs are being met.
The statement said more than 50 people were interviewed during the investigation, including former jail employees cited by the TV station. Telephone calls from inmates were reviewed along with the jail’s financial records.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy said one former employee admitted they never witnessed inmates being denied adequate access to water and the other left the jail bitter and under “well-documented employment issues.”
“The sad part of this investigation is that family members are repeatedly lied to by inmates about their access to clothing, food, water, mattresses, medical attention, living conditions, even shoes,” Sandy said in the statement. “One mother that we interviewed was told by her own child, an inmate, that their shoes were stolen and weren’t given replacement shoes to wear, so she deposited money into their account for shoes that were never purchased.”