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)