Thursday, January 31, 2013

Justice Reinvestment comes to West Virginia

The Justice Center of the Council of State Governments has been studying West Virginia's prison overcrowding problems for the past year. A similar study was conducted in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The group has submitted recommendations its members believe could reduce the prison population and save the state more than $100 million by 2018, according to the Charleston Gazette.

The recommendations include a three-prong approach to alleviate prison overcrowding:

Expand community-based substance abuse treatment programs.

Require post-release supervision of all inmates, including those who have maxed out their sentences and are not placed on parole upon release.

Improve community-based supervision of inmates on probation or parole, including expanding day report center programs.

"I think the policy framework that was released today helps strengthen all parts of the system to improve outcomes," Marc Pelka, policy analyst for the Justice Center told the Gazette.

The center's report estimates that if the recommendations are adopted, West Virginia's inmate population will drop from the current 7,531 to 7,418 by 2018. That would amount to an overall savings of $140 million in operating costs over that period, compared to a projected growth of the prison population to 8,893 by 2018 if no changes are made.

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