CHARLESTON, WV – Families and advocates gathered at the state capitol to demand better protections for inmates in West Virginia, following the death of one inmate at Southern Regional Jail in December. According to activists, over 100 inmates have died while incarcerated in the state over the past decade.
The event, organized by the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and Repairers of the Breach President Bishop William J. Barber II, aimed to shed light on the lack of safeguards for inmates in the state’s correctional facilities. Latasha Williams, the fiancée of Quantez Burks, a recent inmate victim, passionately spoke about the need for accountability for those responsible for her fiancé’s death.
Six former correctional officers at Southern Regional Jail were indicted by a federal grand jury following the death of an inmate. Families of the victims expressed their frustration with the lack of response from state authorities and called for justice and accountability. Justine Shrewsbury, who lost her husband Alvis Shrewsbury, emphasized the emotional toll it has taken on the families of the deceased.
Former inmate Ed Toothman also shared his experiences of neglect and abuse during his time at North Central Regional Jail. His eyewitness account highlighted the dire need for reforms in the prison system. Families and advocates are urging West Virginia lawmakers and Governor Jim Justice to address these issues in the 2024 legislative session.
The West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign plans to continue advocating for change, with an upcoming assembly to discuss poverty and the challenges faced by underprivileged individuals in the state. The focus will also include conversations around the treatment of incarcerated individuals in West Virginia’s correctional facilities.