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Phone outages make a mess – especially for courts, inmates in southern West Virginia

By By Josephine E. Moore The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A man at Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County had to wait in prison an additional three days after making bail because the phone and fax lines at the Raleigh County Courthouse were down.

“I bonded a guy last Monday, and it took until Thursday to let him out of jail,” said Gary Vaughan, a bail bondsman with 1st Action Bail Bonds in Beckley.

“(The courthouse) sends all their releases via fax and the fax machines are down as well.”

Vaughan said that man would likely still be in jail had he not reached out to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

“I had to finally go to the prosecutor and talk to the prosecutor’s office and say, ‘Look, you’re violating this guy’s civil rights by not letting him out of jail,’” Vaughan said.

“The prosecutor, of course, agreed and, I don’t know what they did, but they went over and got some sort of an alternate way in place for them to let people out of jail. But people weren’t getting out of jail.”

Ben Hatfield, Raleigh County’s prosecuting attorney, said the issues has been resolved.

“Last week, we were made aware of a situation involving telecommunications lines being down affecting communication between the Raleigh County Circuit Clerk’s Office and the Southern Regional Jail,” Hatfield told The Register-Herald on Wednesday. “Immediately upon discovering the issue, we worked with the Raleigh County Circuit judges to immediately remedy the problem and individuals should no longer be affected by the down communication lines which still remain down. But substitute measures have been put in place so that the circuit clerk’s office could adequately communicate with the Southern Regional Jail.”

According to business owners and county officials, phone lines through Frontier went down on either April 1 or April 2, nearly two weeks ago….

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