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January 25, 2009

Reporting from West Virginia about prison economy realities

Two articles today from the Times West Virginian provide another effective local perspective on my favorite real-politick mantra, "It's the prison economy, stupid."  The lead article, headlined "Running out of room: Drug courts one option in reducing prison overcrowding," starts this way:

As in many other states, the prison population in West Virginia is increasing quickly.  Although violent crimes are on the decline, the population of West Virginia’s prisons is quickly outgrowing the capacity of the state’s facilities, according to Joe Thornton, deputy secretary of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which is the agency that oversees the Division of Corrections.

Currently the state has room for 5,000 prisoners in state prisons.  However, there are now 6,200 inmates who have been sentenced to terms in state prisons, Thornton said.  That means there are 1,200 prisoners who should be confined to state prisons but are instead sitting in regional jails awaiting transfer to prisons when a bed opens up.

“It’s a matter of perspective, but I think we’re at a crisis level right now,” Thornton said. “And now were running out of space in the regional jails, too.”  And the problem is likely to get worse. According to Thornton, the number of those sentenced to serve terms in a state prison is predicted to rise to around 8,000 by 2012.  Gov. Joe Manchin has appointed a commission to study the overcrowding issue, Thornton said, and there are several solutions being discussed to deal with the overcrowding problem.

The companion article, headlined "Alternative sentencing becoming more common," starts this way:

Like many expenses, the cost of housing inmates in jails and prisons around the country is increasing.

Along with the increasing costs, inmate populations are also on the rise, and that is leaving governments on the federal, state and local levels looking for ways to cut down on the costs of housing criminals.  To combat that, different forms of alternative sentencing have been thrust to the forefront.

Alternative sentencing can come in forms such as home confinement or community service and is normally reserved for non-violent offenders.  The idea of the programs is to keep the offender out of jail, which reduces the fees paid by the state and counties.

January 25, 2009 at 08:00 AM | Permalink


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Prisons, Powerball and Powerplants is no way to fund this county's and this state's future. Likewise, simply warehousing those not actively conspiciously consuming --be they the young, the old or the "non-compliants"-- is not an effective way to maximize your "human resources." Are we never going to learn???
And "drug courts?" Here's an idea: treat ALL substances known to cause health and safety concerns imported illegally as the NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS that they are. Decriminalize marijuana and force health insurance companies to pick up the tab for treating those addicted to "substances known to cause health and safety concerns imported illegally." Drug problem AND national security problem AND prison-overcrowding solved. Mail me my Nobel Prize...

Posted by: Charles D. Renton | Jan 27, 2009 1:23:00 AM


Posted by: stop the sherrifs office from trumping up charges to bring longer sentences | Feb 27, 2010 10:04:14 AM

Hello friendz
West Virginia gun trader is a forum which is related to sell or trade any gun according to west Verginia state laws. You are welcome to the forum and share everything.

Posted by: mintukumar | Sep 10, 2011 10:08:55 AM

I have a friend in federal prison with sentencing pending in WV. He is currently incarcerated in OH. Can he be sentenced in absentia? He can't qualify for good time as long as he has that pending and the prosecutor won't pay to have him transported.

Posted by: Tammy | Jan 25, 2012 11:29:58 PM

can someone tell me how in wva a man can get more time for a "he said she said no evidence" molestation case than a hard core smooth up murderer.?

Posted by: stan east | Mar 21, 2012 5:23:04 PM

Funny that a post from Charles D. Renton mentions the legalization of marijuana since he is a known pothead.

Posted by: J Kinsey | Sep 11, 2012 12:37:34 PM

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