Emily Rice Published

Another Inmate Dies In W.Va. Custody

A line of jail cells.Lettas/Adobe Stock

Another incarcerated person in West Virginia has passed away in custody. 

A thus-far unnamed 30-year-old Mercer County man was found dead Friday morning by apparent suicide at the Southern Regional Jail, according to authorities with the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Andy Malinoski, director of marketing and communications at the West Virginia Department of Commerce, said in an email to West Virginia Public Broadcasting that no additional information is available at this time as the incident is under investigation by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Criminal Investigation Division.

“The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is committed to the safety, quality of life, and wellbeing of those in the care of the legal system in our state,” Malinoski said. “We empathize with the friends and families of those that have experienced the loss of a loved one that was placed in our care.”

There were 13 reported deaths at the Southern Regional Jail in 2022, and more than 100 deaths in the state’s regional jail system in the past decade.

Advocates claim in many of these cases, a person died shortly following their arrival, sometimes within 24 hours.

On March 10 the Poor People’s Campaign, held a rally called “West Virginia Mothers and Families Deserve Answers” on the front steps of the state capitol building alongside grieving families of incarcerated individuals.

Two of the 13 inmates that died last year were Quantez Burks and Alvis Shrewsbury. Their families attended the rally and spoke about their loved ones.

Just days after the protesters marched into the state capitol to hand deliver a petition to Gov. Jim Justice, family members of William Samples identified him as the latest death of an incarcerated individual in West Virginia jails on March 14.

During the rally, the Poor People’s Campaign called for a federal investigation into the ongoing deaths at West Virginia’s jails. 

West Virginia State Police are investigating Samples’ death.