The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

October 9, 2012

Jail officer’s arrest prompts outside probe

West Virginia’s regional jails chief told legislators Monday that he’s requested an independent, outside investigator to review agency policy following last month’s arrest of a correctional officer accused of having sex with inmates in exchange for cigarettes.

Agency Executive Director Joe DeLong responded to several questions from a House-Senate oversight committee prompted by the criminal charges filed against officer William Roy Wilson.

State Police arrested Wilson, 29, of Beckley and accused him of forcing sexual acts with three women at Southern Regional Jail starting in May. The Legislature passed a law earlier this year that makes sexual contact between people under supervision and officers, contractors or other staff a felony. The new law, crafted by the interim study committee, makes clear that consent cannot be a defense.

DeLong also noted that Wilson faces multiple civil claims alleging sexual misconduct at the jail. At least 11 lawsuits have targeted Wilson, including two that have been settled out-of-court.

Besides reviewing what led up to Wilson’s arrest, DeLong said the investigator would examine the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority’s relevant policies, both current and prior. DeLong said he also wants this probe to “look at any inappropriate steps or inaction” that may have delayed the discovery of Wilson’s alleged conduct.

A former legislator and House Majority leader, DeLong became the agency’s executive director in August after holding the post in an acting capacity.

DeLong took time during Monday’s meeting to defend his staff, which suffer low pay and long hours amid high turnover and vacancies. West Virginia is wrestling with a growing inmate crisis, with at-capacity prisons forcing thousands of convicted felons to serve parts of their sentences in the network of 10 regional jails. Each jail has more inmates than it was designed to hold, officials have said.

“We have a lot of employees who are accused of a lot of things that they don’t do,” DeLong said. “When you cast a broad enough net, to say that everybody is doing something wrong, and then you find someone who is doing something wrong, you use that as backup and say, ‘See, I told you so,”’ DeLong told lawmakers.

DeLong said Wilson was arrested after an inmate complained about “inappropriate activities” in Southern Regional Jail’s kitchen, which inmates help staff. DeLong did not detail those allegations, but said they did not involve Wilson and the resulting investigation failed to support some of them. But that inquiry found evidence of some misconduct, and the agency brought in the State Police, DeLong said.

Text Only
Latest News
  • New River Gorge eagle hit by train, vehicle dies

    A female bald eagle that nested in the New River Gorge has died from injuries suffered last month when she was hit by a train and later by a vehicle.

    April 17, 2014

  • Rock slide closes W.Va. 20 near Hinton

    A rock slide this morning has closed W.Va. 20 near Hinton between the Veterans Memorial Bridge and Bluestone Dam, according to the Summers County EOC.

    April 17, 2014

  • Video: Meat market

    The price of beef has everyone in a stew these days, and it doesn’t stop with the “what’s for dinner” protein. Prices of pork and chicken are on the rise, as well.

    April 17, 2014

  • Still alive, TWV’S 54th season is all ‘Hatfields and McCoys’

    Although the schedule is a bit different than originally planned, Theatre West Virginia Act II is officially alive, with 17 scheduled showings of “Hatfields and McCoys.”
    The curtain will rise for its 54th season on July 11, and Manager Scott Hill said these 17 shows will be produced with the same quality theater patrons have come to know and love over the years.

    April 17, 2014

  • jobfair Spring Job Fair: 400 job seekers meet 22 employers

    More than 400 people came looking for a new job Wednesday at The Register-Herald’s Spring Job Fair at the Tamarack Conference Center.
    This year there were 22 area employers in attendance which gave potential hires more options in many different fields.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Child care in state lacking in quality

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Train derailment reported in Mercer County

    The derailment occurred in the Rock area of Mercer County, according to Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in state

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rahall raises $324k in WVa’s 3rd; Jenkins, $194k

    Democrat U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall raised almost $324,000 last quarter for his contested re-election bid, while GOP challenger Evan Jenkins banked about $193,500.

    April 16, 2014

  • State regional jails ban touching during visits

    Concerns about drug contraband have prompted a ban on regional jail inmates touching loved ones during supervised contact visits.

    April 16, 2014