Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Michael Keller / Goldenseal

Three more prisoners and one employee for the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation have tested positive for the coronavirus, as state officials continue collecting results from all incarcerated people in West Virginia.

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The West Virginia National Guard verified on Tuesday one of its members in Putnam County had made “inflammatory” remarks on social media, regarding nationwide protests against racially charged police brutality. 

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Advocates are renewing calls to test and reduce the state’s incarcerated population, as its jails are once again overcrowded and more than 100 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in a state prison.  

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Updated on May 26, 2020, at 10 p.m. with more recent data from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Eighty-four people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, as the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation awaits hundreds more results from tests conducted Monday.

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A second employee working for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation has tested positive for the coronavirus, this time in Randolph County. 

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This story was updated on April 24, 2020, at 12:30 p.m.

The West Virginia Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to dismiss a request that would’ve required the state to release 39 incarcerated individuals. The request was made by criminal justice reform advocates in response to fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the state’s correctional institutions, which have historically faced overcrowded conditions.

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West Virginia corrections officials this week released a redacted version of its policy for handling and preventing COVID-19 in the state’s jails, prisons and other correctional facilities.

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The number of inmates in West Virginia’s overcrowded criminal justice system has declined over the last few weeks, as prosecutors throughout the state identify low-risk inmates eligible for parole. 

But several groups are still calling on the state to do more, to further reduce its incarcerated population and ensure that staff and inmates have the appropriate space and supplies to protect themselves against COVID-19.