Corruption: Jail overdoses show need for scrutiny

Drug overdoses are not uncommon in many West Virginia communities, including Charleston. But the five women who had to be treated at a hospital there last Monday appear to have overdosed at the South Central Regional Jail.

That ought to prompt an investigation of drug smuggling at other regional jails and state prisons.

The five female jail inmates were given the drug Narcan to counteract overdoses. It appears they will be all right.

Once they have recovered, one question they ought to be asked is how they obtained illegal drugs. On April 11, a corrections officer at the jail, John Roach II, was arrested on a charge of purchasing methamphetamine. He allegedly had been paid to buy the drugs while off duty, then deliver them to the jail.

Did the five overdose victims get their drugs from him? Or is he just the tip of the iceberg? Are there other suppliers at that jail — and perhaps others in the state?

Across the country, such activity is becoming more common. Earlier this month, six corrections officers and staffers at Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland were arrested for corruption including taking bribes to smuggle drugs. Officials at the Taos County Jail in New Mexico say low pay may be one of the excuses used by two corrections officers who have taken to drug trafficking.

Nonsense. There are too many good corrections officers who manage to maintain their integrity and obey the law regardless of what they are paid to allow anyone to fall back on an excuse like that.

If Roach is guilty, he should be punished severely. And if other corrections officers have become pushers, they, too, need to be arrested.

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