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Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

Statement regarding airing of jail lockdown video



Joe Thornton
Cabinet Secretary

Contact: Lawrence Messina
(304) 558-2930

Feb. 18, 2016

Statement regarding airing of jail lockdown video

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Under the leadership of Executive Director David Farmer, the West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority (WVRJA) does not tolerate any misuse of force and takes all allegations with the utmost gravity. The safety of all inmates, staff and the public are at the forefront of the mission of the WVRJA.

Executive Director Farmer inherited several court cases involving the WVRJA’s Special Response Team upon his appointment as executive director on June 1, 2015. He has sought to see them resolved in a just and proper manner.

As a result of actions taken by Executive Director Farmer within a month of his appointment, the SRT program and its policies no longer exist.

He has also implemented a new policy that requires the prompt reporting and close scrutiny of all use-of-force incidents.

A video has surfaced in the media that provides an incomplete, out-of-context depiction of a lockdown and sweep of a regional jail involving SRT members that occurred nearly two years ago.

The precipitating concern, that inmates possessed makeshift weapons, was well-founded: multiple weapons were confiscated. Seizing these weapons eliminated very real threats against staff, inmates and potentially the public.

The WVRJA believes that the publication of this video undermines the safety and security of staff and inmates, as the footage relates to the design of a jail facility and its operational procedures.

As presented in the media, it also unfairly portrays the men and women who carry out the WVRJA’s vital public safety mission every day and around the clock. They deserve and have earned the support of their fellow West Virginians.

Because these incidents are a subject of pending litigation, the WVRJA is limited in its ability to comment further. The best course of action remains to seek the resolution of these cases through the legal process.

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