A Southern Regional Jail correctional officer arrested last month for sexually abusing female inmates legally collected more than $3,100 in severance pay from the state while sitting behind bars.
State jails director Joe DeLong told the Regional Jail Authority board Thursday he hopes to work with lawmakers next year to revamp how the authority deals with suspended and terminated employees.
On Sept. 20, the West Virginia State Police arrested William Roy Wilson, 39, of Beckley on felony charges of soliciting sex from female inmates. Authorities said Wilson traded cigarettes for sex with three women under his supervision at Southern Regional Jail.
That same day, State Auditor's office records showed Wilson was issued a $3,143.53 termination check.
Even though Wilson allegedly committed felonies on the job, DeLong said state law required the authority to give Wilson a severance check.
"He obviously was terminated, he was arrested, he was sitting in one of our cells, and he was collecting a paycheck . . . because state statute requires him to be paid for 15 days after his termination," DeLong said.
The Regional Jail Authority Board agreed to allow DeLong to start working on crafting a better way to deal with corrections officers suspected of breaking the law while on the job.
The state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety has assigned an investigator from the Division of Juvenile Services to conduct an independent investigation in Wilson's case.
DeLong said records showed Wilson had shown a disturbing pattern of behavior for years.
"It appears there were several allegations for many years against this officer that went uninvestigated," he said. "So we've asked for some outside help to come in and look at that."
DeLong said the authority is going to take a zero-tolerance policy against officers who abuse their power.
But at the same time, he said he doesn't want to punish those who are wrongly accused.
DeLong said he's beginning to work with the Communications Workers of America union, which represents state corrections officers, and lawmakers to revise state laws regarding pay for terminated and suspended employees.