ACLU WV Sues Over Prisoner Water Shortage

This week the ACLU West Virginia put the state on notice that they will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners who were incarcerated during the Freedom Industries chemical spill in 2014 that left residents of Charleston and nine other counties without clean tap water for weeks.

ACLU accuses West Virginia of being in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment for the treatment of prisoners at the South Central Jail during the weeks after the spill. People who were incarcerated during that time were allegedly given inadequate amounts of drinking and bathing water – denying basic human needs and putting the prisoners at risk for physical injury.

Documents obtained by ThinkProgress show guards were only told to provide inmates with four 8-oz. servings of water a day. After inmates complained, officials decided five servings should be “sufficient,” according to internal emails. To make matters worse, according to the ACLU and the testimonies of people incarcerated, inmates who spoke up about receiving an adequate amount of water were punished with solitary confinement.

The ACLU will be seeking monetary damages, as well as changes in agency policies.

About Callie J Lyons

Callie Lyons is an investigative journalist and author living in the Mid Ohio Valley. Her first book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is available at and in hundreds of libraries all over the world. Known as a "warrior for public health", Lyons' environmental investigations have been featured in documentaries, including Good Neighbors - Bad Blood and Toxic Soup, on Swedish National Television and in numbers of television, radio and print media interviews. Her work has appeared on Nova's Whiz Kids and in Mother Jones magazine. More recently, a national audience has come to know her award-winning investigative work through the Environmental Working Group and interviews with leading publications like the Huffington Post and The Intercept. Lyons' work was featured in the 2017 documentary Parched:Toxic Waters by National Geographic. The Short, Fantastic Life of a Saloon Girl is Lyons' first published work of historical fiction.
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