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Jail authority chief offers updates on investigations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state's Regional Jail Authority's executive director updated legislators on Monday on two ongoing investigations of allegations of excessive use of force by correctional officers at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.

Joe DeLong said one internal investigation has been completed, with six officers receiving disciplinary actions ranging from suspensions without pay to termination. A seventh officer resigned during the course of the investigation, he said.

DeLong did not identify the officers.

The other incident, involving eight correctional officers, is still under investigation by the State Police. That investigation could result in criminal charges, DeLong said.

He said officials at the Regional Jail Authority central office are not directly involved in that investigation.

"Although we will cooperate with anything they do, we also try to get out of their way," he said.

DeLong last month told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jails and Corrections that 15 correctional officers at Western had been suspended pending investigations of excessive use of force, including one incident that led to the hospitalization of an inmate.

Last month, DeLong said he was particularly concerned that other officers had failed to report the incidents in what he called a "buddy system" culture at the jail. He referred to it as, "See nothing. Report nothing. Do nothing."

DeLong said Monday that he had not ruled out disciplinary action against Western jail administrator Mike Clark or chief correctional officer Carl Aldridge.

However, he said the top administrators at Western work on the day shift, while the incidents under investigation occurred on the evening shift.

DeLong said it is difficult to retain good mid-level managers at the regional jails at the corporal or sergeant level, since the salary increase of about $1,000 doesn't make up for the additional duties and responsibilities.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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