CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Gov. Jim Justice’s administration confirmed that two high-level West Virginia Department of Corrections employees have been terminated after complaints about conditions at Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County.
Interim Commissioner Brad Douglas and Homeland Security Chief Council Phil Sword have both been fired.
Earlier this week, a federal magistrate involved in reviewing a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of state inmates said evidence was “intentionally destroyed.” The lawsuit said that overcrowding and understaffing are leading to illness and even deaths of some inmates.
Despite letting these two state employees go, Gov. Justice’s office still said it disagreed with the magistrate’s overall assessment of the case.
West Virginia Secretary of Homeland Security Mark Sorsaia said it was state policy to “sweep” a former employee’s emails from the system once they were gone for five months and that there was no criminal intent.
“We will agree that there was some mistakes in that process by individuals, and those individuals are no longer in any—have any responsibility for future discovery,” Sorsaia said. “We’re taking steps to clean that up, but I can say that I respectfully disagree with the magistrate that we intentionally failed to disclose evidence.”
Gov. Justice added that if they do find that anyone intentionally destroyed evidence, they would be fired and prosecuted.