By Anna Baxter
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced a joint effort to review the state’s juvenile justice system.
The governor was joined Wednesday with justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, members of the West Virginia Legislature and representatives of Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) for the announcement.
Governor Tomblin is one one of several state leaders to sign the agreement. It will allow Pew Charitable Trust to review and outline what needs to done to reduce the rate of recidivism.
“While much of our initial justice reinvestment efforts have focused on addressing our adult corrections system, we must also make every effort to better meet the needs of our youth and prevent them from ever entering our prison system,” Gov. Tomblin said. “As we continue to put emphasis on reforming West Virginia’s justice system, we must also move toward a more effective approach for juveniles – one that embraces community-based treatment and tells our children we care about them and their future.”
Governor Tomblin believes there is a need to have more community based programs with adult supervision. One of things is to make sure they’re attending school once they’ve been released.
“Through our justice reinvestment efforts, we’ve learned data-driven and research-based programs can be successful,” Gov. Tomblin said. “By bringing together those in the community and working with experts like Pew, we can work together to identify best practices that have been proven effective in other states to better serve our young people and prepare them to become contributing members of our communities.”
The governor plans to establish the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare. The task force will bring together a cooperation of leaders from all branches of government to review current date trends, evaluate the use of evidence-based programs in West Virginia, develop specific, tailored recommendations for improvements, and implement a common-sense approach to juvenile justice.
“So many times when they’re released from a juvenile facility, they go right back to the same environment, they go back to the same group of people and end up recommitting the same crimes again and end up back in the juvenile system,” Tomblin said.