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.