Monthly Archives: May 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Jail authorities admit they lied about water crisis response

SCRJ authorities have admitted in an article just published on ThinkProgress that they made false statements to the media about how the jail handled the water crisis. Lawrence Messina, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, acknowledged the lies in an interview with reporter Christie Thompson:

Messina said his colleague [WV Regional Jail Authority executive director] Joe DeLong “either misspoke or maybe misunderstood” when he said inmates received eight bottles of water a day, and that he understood inmates were receiving five after jail staff increased the amount.

Thompson obtained internal documents revealing that guards were instructed to provide four (and, later, five) eight-ounce bottles of water per inmate, per day — far below the 100 oz. of clean water recommended for adult men to avoid dehydration. (Inmates and a former corrections officer have reported that, despite these instructions, many were given only two or three bottles daily.) Thompson also obtained a “heavily redacted” jail log confirming that flushing of the jail’s water systems happened during only one day, not “two or three” as previously reported.

Inmate Jason Clendenin, among others told us that his goal in sharing his story was to “Make the jail tell the truth.” The state’s public acknowledgement of having lied to the media and the public is a victory for prisoners, but is only a small first step toward justice for the inmates at South Central. We demand jail authorities and staff continue confronting their inhumane response to the water crisis, and take initial necessary corrective actions.

Please SIGN OUR PETITION to support these demands, and CLICK HERE to read the whole article at ThinkProgress!

Read our new report on SCRJ’s response to the water crisis

We’ve just published our findings on South Central Regional Jail’s mishandling of the January 2014 chemical spill, Negligence and Malice: A Preliminary Report on the Water Crisis at South Central Regional Jail. This report brings together several months’ worth of inmates’ stories and letters, including those shared on this site, to present a detailed list of their grievances and experiences of mistreatment by the jail staff and administration. It also places these stories within an ongoing pattern of human rights abuses and gross disregard for inmates’ health and safety:

[T]he jail’s punishment of inmates who attempted to speak out or seek medical attention and the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority’s public denial of wrongdoing suggest that there has been a coordinated cover­-up of systematic chemical poisoning of inmates ongoing since January.

Please click here to read the whole report. (Members of the media should download our press packet, which includes a press release about this report.)

We also encourage you to sign our petition if you feel moved by this report!

Letter from Ray Legg (3/24/14)

Tues. 3/24/14

Hey Jonathan,

I’m glad you wrote. Thanks again, so very much, for everything you guys are doing. It really means a lot. We need a voice to stand up and speak for us and let the public know what’s going on, because as long as we are incarcerated our voice is suppressed. You have my full cooperation and I’m willing to do anything and everything I can to help! Continue reading Letter from Ray Legg (3/24/14)

Inmate Petition #2 by Eric D. Ayers (4/23/14)

This petition was written and distributed within the jail by Eric D. Ayers, and was mailed to Stories from South Central volunteers (along with an earlier inmate petition) to be sent along to state and federal government agencies. 

Download a PDF of this petition
Download a PDF of this petition

C/O’s are mistreating the inmates as follows:

A) Excessive force & malnutrition

  1. Beating up/assaulting inmates after handcuffed & subdued
  2. Facility serves tiny food portions

Continue reading Inmate Petition #2 by Eric D. Ayers (4/23/14)

Inmate Petition #1 by Eric D. Ayers (2/13/14)

This petition was written and distributed within the jail by Eric D. Ayers, and was mailed to Stories from South Central volunteers (along with another, later inmate petition) to be sent along to state and federal government agencies.

Ayers petition 1 thumbnail
Download a PDF of the petition

The unsanitary conditions are as follows (including mistreating of inmates):

A) Hazardous Water

  1. Water is unsafe to drink.
  2. Water is unsafe to shower.
  3. Inmates urinating blood

B) Contaminated Drinking Cups

  1. Cups are never collected to be sanitized.
  2. No safe sanitizer provided for cups.

Continue reading Inmate Petition #1 by Eric D. Ayers (2/13/14)

Letter From Jamaa Johnson (4/20/14)



Hey, it’s late Sunday (Easter)! I figured I would get a fresh start on the week doing positive. There was a bad situation in the jail this week (Thursday evening & Friday): 

At 5 o’clock Thursday evening the phones were shut off, we were told it was a security issue. We then were locked down in our cells the rest of the day. We woke up the next morning still locked down, which happens and isn’t a issue. At 2 pm I estimate 15 people with SWAT hats and camouflage ran in the pod with multiple shotguns, canisters of tear gas and a gun that shot bean bags (which is very painful). They were screaming get on the floor, hands behind your head, if you move we will shoot. Mind you we are locked in our cells. Once on the floor they popped the doors, threw handcuffs on us jerked us up by our shirts made all of us line up on the wall on our knees, touching our foreheads to the wall. I am by no means soft, but many of the guys including myself were in a lot of pain supported by our knees only on the hard concrete floor for about 45 minutes. If we looked left or right, or if our foreheads left the wall, we were made to lean forward hurting worse. We all lined up had shotguns pointed at us receiving threats and screams “if you move we will shoot”. They pulled us up 1 at a time put us in a dirty shower, where we stripped bare feet on that nasty shower floor. Then threw us back in line after the private search. While we were being searched they threw everything out of our rooms, I’m on the 2nd floor so they threw some of my most important federal paper work off the balcony, there was a massive pile of everyone’s belongings. They threw away legal paper work, tooth brushes, soap and much more. These things were thrown away. I can never get my federal evidence back. After everyone was dehumanized they put us back into completely empty cells at 10 till 3 pm. We sit with nothing at all till 9 pm that night. At 3:30 am they allowed us to get the personal things that they decided wasn’t trash back. We were let off of lock down Saturday morning. I heard during their “Raid” they shot at least 3 people with bean bag rounds, strapped some into chairs putting masks on their faces and dragging people out in the hall. I have been to prisons (2) and many jails. Never have I seen so many people dehumanized for no reason. They went from pod to pod doing this same thing. There’s more detail but I don’t have time to write that much. The raid happened April 18, 2014. If you need more information feel free to write.

Also I want to thank you for the books. If you hadn’t read the Autobiography of Assata Shakur it’s definitely a must read. I don’t really agree with her stance on racism, seeing that I have a 8 year old biracial little girl and respect her mother who is white and a great woman. But Assata’s revolutionary mind was worth the read. Thank you.

Also I’m closing in on my trial date, I have tried to fire the lawyer they gave me twice which they denied me. Do you know any pro bono federal lawyers. My family is working hard to get the last 25k of the 75k lawyer that I need/want. The court is trying to really railroad me. If you saw how my lawyer has denied me a fair chance you would truly be surprised :-( Civil Rights ….. I’m not sure if I believe they exist without money. Gotta go. Any other autobiographies or good books feel free to send. Thank you.

Jamaa Johnson

(Sorry so sloppy, in a rush)