The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

September 25, 2012

No excuse

A correctional officer at Southern Regional Jail was charged by West Virginia State Police last week with four counts of sexual imposition against three women under his supervision.

The deal — according to the State Police charges — cigarettes for the inmates in exchange for sexual acts.

This is the first time that the jail guard, 29-year-old William Roy Wilson of Beckley, has faced criminal charges.

However, an attorney has stepped forward and said that 11 different lawsuits for sexual assault and harassment, alleging that Wilson was the party responsible while serving in his capacity as an employee of the Regional Jail Authority, have been filed since 2010.

Two of those civil cases have since been settled, according to the lawyer, and nine others are still pending.

We don’t work for NASA, and we understand the sensitivity of personnel matters and how they must be handled, but how has this guy been permitted to continue his work as a correctional officer, with direct supervisory power over inmates, since 2010?

Was nobody else watching him after the initial allegations?

There is no excuse for it.

We’re also sure that the overcrowding problems in state correctional centers also contribute to trouble like this.

State leaders are relying on a detailed study, currently under way, to identify issues and suggest to them how they need to be addressed.

However, that doesn’t resolve what is happening right now, today.

While building options and costs are unquestionably a key consideration, how much money is being spent dealing with issues like this one?

It’s a dilemma that definitely needs more attention.

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