Overcrowded W VA Jails Mean Discipline, Service Breakdown


The overflow of prisoners in West Virginia’s regional jails has led to a breakdown in basic discipline and left staff unable to provide adequate medical and mental health services to inmates, according to the state’s top jail official. The Charleston Daily Mail says that the regional jails for years have been housing inmates who should be housed in one of the state’s 14 Division of Corrections facilities. The state prisons are supposed to house felons serving sentences of more than a year.

Those prisons can house up to 5,100 inmates, but nearly 6,900 inmates currently are sentenced there. That means many prisoners are sitting in regional jails while they wait for beds in the state system to open up. There were 1,763 state prisoners in regional jails as of yesterday, said Larry Parsons of the regional jail authority. While the jails typically have some excess capacity for state inmates, as of yesterday they were operating over capacity by 1,705. Nearly 1,500 beds have been added in recent years, but that hasn’t been enough. “We still had 213 inmates this morning sleeping on the floor on 3-inch mattresses,” Parsons said.

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