Girlfriend of inmate complains of overcrowded conditions at SRJ after death of inmate
BEAVER, W.Va. (WVVA) - WVVA News is digging deeper into conditions at Southern Regional Jail (SRJ) following the death of an inmate earlier this month.
A spokesperson for the jail said Quantez Burks collapsed and died in a segregated section after being transferred there for becoming combative in a different section. Published reports claim Burks’ family is seeking a second autopsy regarding his cause of death outside the state medical examiner.
Meanwhile, the girlfriend of another inmate at the jail reached out to WVVA News, claiming the conditions inside the jail are deteriorating.
For fear of retaliation, Kate Dunford asked that her boyfriend’s identity remain confidential. She said he has been an inmate at the jail since December.
“He says they’re sleeping under toilet lines. So when it floods they have to mop it up and everything.”
Since our September 2021, report on conditions at SRJ, the inmate population shows a small decline -- from 673 to 642. Still, there are 200 more inmates than SRJ was designed to house.
A spokesperson for the regional jail system, Lawrence Messina, said 64 percent of those inmates are pre-trial defendants -- meaning they have yet to be found guilty of committing a crime.
Dunford claims the conditions her boyfriend is describing sound inhumane.
“He was forced to drink out of the toilet. He was forced to stay in the cell for three days without running water and had to drink out of the toilet,” Dunford said.
Messina countered the claim, saying “there’s been no drinking water issue at the facility.”
While SRJ currently posts the second highest number of pre-trial defendants in the state, the jail also houses a large number of inmates who either awaiting transfer to prison or not eligible for transfer. Messina said those inmates make up 19 percent of the jail’s population.
As for staffing levels at SRJ, Messina said SRJ’s staff vacancy rate is lower than seven of the nine other jails.
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