Wednesday, September 14, 2011

W.Va. jail overcrowding leads to increase in violence against local corrections staff

Following a trend in overcrowding of jails across the country, West Virginia's rate of inmate assaults on regional jail staff and inmate-on-inmate assaults has increased exponentially over the past year. Inmate-on-inmate assaults in the state's 10 regional jails rose 40 percent, from 496 to 695, while inmate on worker assaults increased 87 percent, leaving 58 correctional officers injured.

West Virginia's Regional Jail Authority executive director, Larry Parsons, told Phil Kabler of the Charleston Gazette that jails are now housing almost 2,000 more inmates than they were designed to hold, and that understaffing has become a problem; 92 correctional officer positions are open.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told Kabler that a backlog of Division of Corrections inmates are housed in local jails. Rubenstein noted that prisons have not seen a rise in inmate violence. He also said the high rate of inmate-on-staff violence could be attributed to the incidents of verbal abuse and inmates throwing objects at workers that they are required to report. (Read more)

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