After extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses identified key challenges in the state’s criminal justice system, policymakers developed a policy framework designed to strengthen community supervision, increase accountability, and expand access to substance use treatment.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of people in West Virginia’s prisons increased 50 percent, with the prison population projected to grow an additional 24 percent by 2018. From 2012 to 2013, the CSG Justice Center worked with state leaders in West Virginia to develop data-driven policy options designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center experts conducted a comprehensive analysis of West Virginia’s criminal justice data and interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system. In 2013, West Virginia enacted justice reinvestment legislation, which includes policies designed to:
- Ensure that supervision practices focus on individuals most likely to reoffend and respond to probation and parole violations with swift, certain, and more cost-effective sanctions;
- Reduce parole hearing delays and mandate that people convicted of violent offenses receive one year of supervision upon release from prison; and
- Require the use of a pretrial screening instrument in jails that predicts risk of flight and risk of reoffending.
These policies are projected to avert up to an estimated $200 million in construction costs and $87 million in operating costs between 2014 and 2018. West Virginia’s Senate Bill 371 also positioned the state to reinvest $9 million to expand access to substance use treatment and services for people under probation and parole supervision between FY2014 and FY2016. At the state’s request, the CSG Justice Center continues to provide assistance in the implementation of these policies.