MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: February 23, 2023
Contact: Michael Holloman, [email protected], 757-955-5804
Phoebe Rogers, [email protected], 914-343-9063
*VIRTUAL PRESSER THURSDAY NOON ET*
Poor People’s Campaign, Families to Hold Press Conference Calling for Federal Investigation of more than 100 State Jail Deaths
Over 100 people of all races have died in state regional jails in the last decade, including 13 at the Southern Regional Jail in the last year
Families, advocates to announce next action in fight for justice, accountability
BECKLEY, WV – The West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will join impacted families of victims who have died in West Virginia jails for a virtual press conference Thursday to raise the alarm on the soaring number of deaths happening inside West Virginia’s regional jail system and the lack of transparency in investigations.
The families of Alvis Shrewsbury and Quantez Burks, who both died at Southern Regional Jail, are seeking justice and demanding accountability. They will be joined by West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign State Chairs, Pam Garrison and Stewart Acuff. The West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign invited Bishop William J. Barber II, President of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, to join them for the press conference.
“A prison sentence should not be a death sentence. Too many low-income, multiracial West Virginians have died under the watch of the state prison system. Their families deserve justice, transparency and closure,” said Bishop Barber. “While state officials drag their feet, we are demanding Sen. Manchin and the Department of Justice launch full investigations into conditions in West Virginia’s prisons and the bureaucratic processes that leave grieving families in limbo.”
In the last year alone, 13 people, of all races, have died at the Southern Regional Jail in Beckley, a prison plagued by understaffing, overcrowding, neglect and other harsh conditions. Since 2018, the Southern Regional Jail has seen a 13-fold increase in deaths. Meanwhile, state officials refuse to thoroughly investigate these deaths or provide families with critical information on the premature passing of their loved ones.
WHO: Anna Shrewsbury, mother of Alvis Shrewsbury who died at Southern Regional Jail
Justine Shrewsbury, wife of Alvis Shrewsbury
Miranda Smith, daughter of Alvis Shrewsbury
Kimberly Burks, mother of Quantez Burks who died at Southern Regional Jail
Latasha Williams, girlfriend of Quantez Burks
Pam Garrison, West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign State Chair
Stewart Acuff, West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign State Chair
Bishop William J. Barber, President of Repairers of the Breach and Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
WHAT: Virtual press conference calling for full state and federal investigations into deaths at West Virginia state regional prisons
WHEN: Thursday February 23, 2023 at NOON ET
In the last decade, over 100 people, of all races, have died in West Virginia regional jails. In many of these cases, a person died shortly following their arrival, sometimes within 24 hours. While state lawmakers are considering a proposal to increase transparency in West Virginia’s jail system, families are still left in the dark, waiting months for investigations to conclude only to be left with unanswered questions.
Some concerned loved ones have also reported discrepancies in autopsies conducted by state officials with those conducted by private medical professionals. Close to 1,000 former and current inmates have launched a class action lawsuit against the Southern Regional Jail.