New study: Fix W.Va. prisons this way

From: Charleston Gazette, jan. 22nd 2013, by Phil Kabler

Plan can reduce inmate population and save money, panel says.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A nonpartisan panel that has been studying West Virginia’s prison overcrowding problems for the past year has submitted recommendations its members believe could reduce the prison population and save the state more than $100 million by 2018.

The Justice Center of the Council of State Governments presented its report to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday, recommending 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,” said Marc Pelka, policy analyst for the Justice Center.

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.