CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Even though it is unusual, Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) may have to testify in an ongoing lawsuit concerning the conditions at the state’s jails and prisons.
The lawsuit specifically mentions problems at the Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County but is also filed on behalf of all inmates in facilities across the state of West Virginia.
The suit alleges overcrowding of inmates and short staffing at many jails and prisons. It also says facilities are unsafe due to lack of maintenance.
Now, Gov. Justice and his Chief of Staff Brian Abraham have been called to give depositions in the case next week, but it’s not clear if they will.
Meanwhile, the state corrections chief says $60 million more have been put into deferred maintenance at several facilities.
“That we have been working with immediately. We have submitted eight projects, division-wide projects that include prisons, jails and juvenile centers, to begin working immediately on,” said William Marshall, the WV Commissioner of Corrections & Rehabilitation.
Lawyers for the inmates say state officials may have destroyed key evidence by deleting the e-mail accounts of six former corrections leaders. But a state official says the purging of e-mail accounts is a routine practice any time an employee leaves state government.
Also, the State Commissioner of Corrections says more than 100 new corrections officers have been hired, but the jails and prisons are still understaffed by more than 900 officers.