UPDATE: Corrections Officer Resigns after Investigation at Western Regional Jail

By: Lauren Schmoll; The Associated Press Email
By: Lauren Schmoll; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 12/10/12 @ 10:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- One West Virginia corrections officer has resigned in the wake of two separate use-of-force episodes at the Western Regional Jail.

Jail authority Executive Director Joe DeLong said six other officers have been disciplined and eight more remain suspended following these incidents.

DeLong updated lawmakers on Monday after discussing the episodes during last month's interim study meetings.

State Police continue to investigate both incidents at the Barboursville facility. The jail agency has finished its internal probe of one of the cases, and that led to the resignation.

DeLong said the agency has done a poor job training corporals, sergeants and shift commanders. He also said good officers don't believe the $1,000 raise that comes with those jobs is worth the added responsibilities, hours and headaches.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

UPDATE 11/27/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Controversy continues at the Western Regional Jail after 15 guards were suspended -- accused of everything from violence to bringing contraband into the jail.

WSAZ.com spoke with members of the of the Regional Jail Oversight Committee Tuesday.

Those members just learned of this Monday during a committee meeting with Joe DeLong, executive director of the Regional Jail Authority.

Delong described a "buddy system" at the jail, where even guards who were not doing anything wrong were covering up the actions of others.

Those actions included guards using excessive force on inmates, even causing broken bones and a collapsed lung in one case.

Others are accused of bringing contraband into the jail, although the type of contraband hasn't been released.

Delegate Jim Morgan is on the Regional Jail Oversight Committee. The Western Regional Jail is in his district, so he's especially concerned about making sure everyone at and around the jail is safe.

“As far as the protection of the public, it's fine,” Morgan said. “It's between the inmates and the workers there ... I think that might be some concern if you were a worker, or really if you were an inmate there.”

Morgan also told WSAZ.com's Lauren Schmoll that he believes this issue goes back to the management of the jail and ultimately to DeLong.

“We're working on it,” Morgan said. “We know with the overcrowded conditions ... that it does make for close quarters, hot tempers ... And we'll certainly work on it as quick as we can."

No one from the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety would speak on camera Tuesday.

"We don't dispute what was said in the committee meeting," Cabinet Secretary Joe Thornton said over the phone.

West Virginia State Police are conducting the investigation.

Morgan says more suspensions and firings are possible.

ORIGINAL STORY: 11/27/12 @ 8:35 A.M.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's regional jail chief is concerned about what he calls a "buddy system" among guards at the Western Regional Jail.

Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority executive director Joe DeLong says 15 correctional officers at the Barboursville jail are on suspension.

Some are accused of using excessive force against inmates. Others allegedly brought contraband into the jail.

DeLong says some of the guards are accused of helping to cover up wrongdoing. That concerns him more than the use of force.

DeLong voiced his concerns Monday during an appearance before an interim legislative committee. DeLong told lawmakers that the authority wants to install surveillance cameras in the regional jails. But it will require a significant investment of funds.

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