Correction: Multiple West Virginia prisoners found dead in recent weeks as inmate mortality rates climb

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DODDRIDGE COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) -- This story has been corrected to more accurately depict national mortality statistics
Two inmates have died in as many weeks at the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County.

In all, five inmates have died at state prisons across West Virginia since June 23. Foul play isn't expected in any of the deaths.

Zachary Alexander Bailey, 26, of Parkersburg, was arrested Monday on a breaking and entering charge. Deputies found him passed out inside a Parkersburg woodworking business, according to the criminal complaint.

Later that night while in the NCRJ holding section, he had what officials called a "medical episode."

"The initial indication is that it may be drug-related," the spokesperson said.

Bailey's death was the second in as many weeks for the jail. On June 30, a man charged in connection to a shooting at the Morgantown Motel that hurt a juvenile was found unresponsive in his jail cell. Davenport, 21, of Greenville, North Carolina, was arrested on June 26.

State officials didn't release details about the manner in which he died but said foul play wasn't suspected.

No updates were available into either investigation as of Wednesday, officials told 5 News.

Three other inmates have died in separate regions jails in recent weeks:

- Franlkin Lee Barnhouse was booked into the Eastern Regional Jail on June 23 at 10:35 p.m. Officials believe he died Sunday morning. No foul play was suspected in this case and there were no indications of intentional self-harm, a spokesperson said.

- Amanda Kessick was found unresponsive June 28 at the Western Regional Jail.

- Mark Anthony Wartenburg died June 29 at the South Central Regional Jail.

No further details were available about the aforementioned incidents, other than foul play wasn't suspected.



According to the most recently available federal data, the number of deaths in West Virginia prisons have jumped from 10 in 2005 to 24 in 2014. Five suicides and two homicides were reported during that time. Those numbers include federal facilities, which are separate from West Virginia DOC and Rehabilitation facilities.

Jails throughout West Virginia reported six deaths in 2005 and eight in 2014, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In 2014, 3,483 inmates died in state prisons, 444 in federal prisons and 1,053 in local jails, the BJS said. The mortality rate only increased slightly from 2013-14 from 136 to 140 deaths per 100,000 jail inmates.

More than a third (425/1,053) deaths in jails in 2014 occurred within the first week of admission. Suicide was the leading cause of death and accounted for 35% of jail inmate deaths across the country.

In prisons across the United States, illness was the most common cause of death, accounting for 87 percent of deaths in 2014 in what is an aging prison population.

But the number of suicides increased by 30 percent from 2013-2014. Suicides represented 7% of all deaths in state prisons in 2014, the highest rate since 2001.

A previous edition of this story had statistics interpreted incorrectly. We apologize for any confusion.