CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A group of religious leaders from across West Virginia say they want more done with the state’s corrections system, especially for the inmates.
Well-known clergy from all corners of the Mountain State gathered at Saint Mark’s Methodist Church in downtown Charleston. They say what Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) and the Legislature did in a special session last week was a good start, but much more needs to be done.
They still want higher salary increases for corrections officers and staff. As for prisoners, they want them to have greater access to religious information, more substance abuse treatment and better mental health care.
“Like most incarcerated mothers, these mothers that are in prison are full of fears, worries, sadness and guilt over their children,” said Rev. Roberta Smith, President of the Charleston Black Ministerial Alliance.
“If we sin, if we commit crimes, we’re still human beings made in god’s image and likeness. And for that very reason, deserve our respect,” said Bishop Mark Brennan, from the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
The faith leaders have declared this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday as statewide “Days of Prayer” in West Virginia in the hopes that it brings more awareness to the improvements needed in the corrections system for both inmates and staff. Just last week, a massive federal lawsuit was filed over the conditions of jails and inmates across the state.
A lawyer for all inmates says the state needs to be spending $300 million dollars repairing all jails and prisons, but the corrections bill approved last week only spends $100 million dollars.