Several are calling for a change in the way West Virginia deals with correctional officers who break the law after a guard was permitted to collect severance pay even after he was arrested for sexual misconduct.
William Roy Wilson, a Southern Regional Jail correctional officer, was arrested on felony charges of soliciting sex from three female inmates. While the women were under his supervision, Wilson allegedly would solicit sex in exchange for giving them cigarettes. After his arrest for sexual misconduct, Wilson received a termination check for $3,143.53. West Virginia’s jails director, Joe DeLong, said that state law required that Wilson receive a severance check, stating that jail employees must be paid within 15 days following termination.
The jails system will now be looking at more effective ways of dealing with corrections officers who break the law. DeLong states that the system will now adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for these sorts of offenses. He will also work with the union for correctional officers and state lawmakers to revise laws dealing with pay for employees who are terminated or suspended. However, the jail system wants to be careful to avoid punishing correctional officers unnecessarily when the charges against them could be false. Currently, state law requires that when an inmate makes an allegation against a correctional officer, the officer be suspended without pay pending an investigation. Although those cleared of wrongdoing charges receive backpay, the investigation can last as long as one month, forcing many correctional officers to endure hardship.
One possibility under a revised system would be if the jail system used the money that would have been for severance to pay the correctional officers during the investigation period. Then, if it turned out an officer were guilty, the severance pay would have already been distributed. DeLong hopes that the changes will improve employee morale and help increase employment in the state jails, which currently have vacancies of up to 12%.
The situation points to the imperfect nature of this state’s jail system in general. Past posts have addressed how overcrowded both the jails and the prisons in this state have become. As a result, inmate on inmate violence has increased, as well as inmate on jail employee violence. In this situation, it is important to remember that those convicted of a crime are not always the perpetrators, but are also frequently the victims. That is why it is important that those convicted have fair representation as well as anyone else.
If you have been convicted of a crime and have been the victim of negligence or sexual misconduct on the part of a jail or prison employee, you have the option of hiring a West Virginia personal injury attorney and filing a lawsuit. While negligence is among the most common tort lawsuits, a person may also file a suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In order for someone to be found guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress, that person must have acted (1) intentional or reckless, (2) in a way that would be considered extreme or outrageous, (3) causing you distress, and (4) you suffer severe emotional distress as a result.