CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — More evidence is surfacing about the conditions at prisons and jails in West Virginia.
The corrections system has been under fire for years, especially one facility: Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County.
The jail remains the subject of a massive federal class action suit filed on behalf of the inmates.
Lawyers in the case have already conducted depositions on several current and former corrections leaders. There have also been several deaths in recent years.
In addition, the lawsuit says the jail is plagued by chronic understaffing and inmate overcrowding, a lack of facility maintenance, and the unconstitutional treatment of many inmates.
The advocacy group, WV Family of Convicted People, has lobbied for criminal justice reforms and calls the conditions appalling.
“It’s unsafe. They are deferring maintenance. That means sometimes people don’t have water. People don’t have toilet paper. Women don’t have feminine hygiene products. It’s not a safe or sanitary place,” said Deborah Ujevich, of the WV Family of Convicted People.
The group also says there needs to be more mental health professionals at Southern Regional, and all other jails and prisons in the state. In the past, Governor Justice and legislative leaders have said the corrections issues and problems would be addressed, but critics say not enough is being done.
The issue is likely to be one of the top items on the agenda when the annual legislative session convenes in January. The WV Family of Convicted People says its members will be there, too.
The state currently has more than 1,000 job openings for corrections officers.