Associated Press Published

Inmate Dies After He Was Found Unresponsive At Scrutinized West Virginia Jail

A correctional officer's arm is shown locking a jail door to an adjoining hallway. The officer is wearing a black long sleeve shirt.Adobe Stock

An inmate at a West Virginia jail scrutinized in lawsuits citing inmate deaths and alleging poor living conditions was pronounced dead Friday morning, officials said.

Correctional officers at Southern Regional Jail found the 24-year-old man unresponsive in his cell and attempted life-saving measures, according to a Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation statement. He was then taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, WCHS reported.

Authorities did not immediately provide further details or reveal the deceased inmate’s identity. The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Criminal Investigation Division and the West Virginia State Police have opened an investigation into the death.

Several former correctional officers with Southern Regional Jail were indicted last month by a federal grand jury in connection with the 2022 death of an incarcerated man who was beaten while handcuffed and restrained in an interview room and later a jail cell. They were also charged with trying to cover up their actions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The indictments came weeks after two West Virginia corrections officers pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from the fatal beating of the same inmate, 37-year-old Quantez Burks. Burks was a pretrial detainee who died less than a day after he was booked into the Southern Regional Jail.

The state of West Virginia also agreed this year to pay $4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by inmates who described conditions at the jail as inhumane. The lawsuit filed last year on behalf of current and former inmates described a lack of access to water and food at the facility, as well as overcrowding and fights that were allowed to continue until someone was injured.