Mercer County inmate dies Friday at Southern Regional Jail

May 5—An incarcerated Mercer County man was found dead Friday morning by an apparent self-inflicted injury at the Southern Regional Jail (SRJ), according to authorities with the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The man, 30, was found in his cell by staff performing routine checks, Andy Malinoski, the director of marketing and communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, said in a statement issued Friday. The inmate's name was not released.

"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."

No additional information was available Friday. The incident is under investigation by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Criminal Investigation Division.

This is the second death to have been reported at SRJ this year.

In March, Malinoski told The Register-Herald that there had been six deaths in state-run jails this year, but he did not specify where those deaths occurred.

Thirteen people died at SRJ in 2022, according to previous reports in The Register Herald.

The Southern Regional Jail is the subject of a federal class action lawsuit that alleges inmates are mistreated, often denied medical treatment and live in deplorable conditions. Attorney and Beckley Common Council member Robert Dunlap, whose firm is representing about 500 people in the class action lawsuit, said the case is in the discovery phase.

"We're past the stage of simply dismissing because we haven't stated the claim for which relief can be granted; we're past all of that," he said. "There's way too much smoke for these folks to pretend there's no fire."

Dunlap is one of five attorneys representing more than 1,000 clients in this class action lawsuit. The remaining attorneys on this case are Russell A. Williams, Stephen New, Timothy Lupardus and Zachary Whitten.

The lawsuit was initially filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Beckley Division.

Dunlap said dozens of individuals have come forward to be added to the lawsuit since its filing.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com