An initial investigation into the death of an inmate at the South Central Regional Jail last week indicates the man died by suicide, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said Tuesday.
Joshua Lee Miles, 36, of Cross Lanes, was found unresponsive in his cell during the early hours of April 13, DMAPS spokesman Lawrence Messina said.
Staff at the jail provided medical assistance, but Miles was pronounced dead at the jail a short time later, Messina wrote.
Miles actually wasn’t supposed to still be in jail on April 13, as a Kanawha County magistrate had tried to send an order to the jail for his release the morning of April 12.
Kanawha Magistrate Jack Pauley signed and attempted to fax an order to South Central at 9:40 a.m., April 12. The fax, though, didn’t go through, according to a “communication result report” printed through the fax machine. The report, which was printed at 10:14 a.m., notes that the one-page release order was not sent. The report was placed in Miles’ case file in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
Pauley did not return a call for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Miles had been in jail since Feb. 27, after allegedly violating the terms of the Kanawha Day Report Program. Kanawha Magistrate Julie Yeager set a $5,000 cash-only bail.
Yeager had sentenced Miles to Day Report after he pleaded guilty in September 2016 to violating a domestic violence protective order.
On March 29, Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster faxed an order for Miles to be released from South Central on a personal recognizance bond. Miles appeared before Webster on a charge of intimidation/retaliation of a witness.
Miles remained in jail, despite Webster’s order, because of the Day Report charge.
The Regional Jail Authority was continuing an internal review Tuesday into Miles’ death, Messina said in his email. The West Virginia State Police has been notified of the incident, he added.
“With the review ongoing and given medical and inmate privacy issues, further details about the incident are not expected at this time,” Messina wrote.
The state Division of Corrections announced last week that mental health crisis-intervention training would begin in prisons and jails throughout the state. The crisis-intervention teams will focus on safely defusing and de-escalating incidents involving inmates with mental illness.
According to the latest information obtained by the Gazette-Mail, two inmates died by suicide in 2015 in state regional jails. In 2014, seven inmates were ruled to have died by suicide.