Gazette editorial: Jailed, hopeless, then dead

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Joshua Miles, 36, of Cross Lanes, was in the South Central Regional Jail for domestic violence problems. On March 29, Circuit Judge Carrie Webster faxed an order for him to be released — but he wasn’t, because a second charge arose over Day Report rules.

On April 12, Magistrate Jack Pauley faxed another order for Miles to be released — but the fax didn’t go through to the jail, and no authorities noticed. The following night, he committed suicide in his cell.

What a tragic situation. Despite two release orders, the distraught man remained confined and suicidal. Why does Kanawha County’s magistrate system rely on state-of-the-art technology from 1985?

In the statewide prison system, seven inmates committed suicide in 2014. Now, state officials are launching mental health crisis intervention training for guards, to try to prevent such “deaths of despair.”

The system failed Joshua Miles. Whatever his wrongdoing, the society’s collective effort failed to get him even a chance at the help he needed. In his fragile state, a simple fax failure led to tragedy. This sad case demands attention and evaluation for ways to do better.

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