Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

West Virginia’s Prison Overcrowding Crisis

with 2 comments

An informative piece from West Virginia Public Broadcasting notes that the state’s fast-growing prison system now holds 6,700 inmates in facilities built to hold 5,100, and still the new commitments keep arriving faster than the system can make room for them. The state is experimenting with accelerated parole, work-release, and drug treatment programs to try to alleviate the overcrowding enough to avoid needing to build a new prison. According to the piece, 75% of West Virginia inmates are in for a nonviolent property or drug offense.

In absolute terms, of course, these numbers aren’t huge: what’s 6,700 inmates compared to the 100,000+ in California, Texas, and Florida? (West Virginia has approximately the population of Santa Clara County, California.) And West Virginia’s per capita incarceration rate (346 per 100K, or 570 if jails are also included) is also not particularly high by U.S. standards — though of course, that still makes it relatively high by world standards. Nevertheless, if it’s true that 75% of inmates are doing prison time for nonviolent property and drug offenses, I’d guess the system is ripe with low-hanging fruit for reform-minded legislators and policymakers.

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Written by sara

February 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. No one is ever locked up that long, not even for 16 counts of child abuse. Maybe murder, then that is if’y. People in prison belong there. I don’t understand why convicts always try to lesson their crimes instead of admitting to what they really did and trying to get help. Nope, let’s pretend we did only minor offences and get people to feel sorry for us. Until they really know the whole story.

    Angela

    August 23, 2011 at 7:07 am

  2. We have way too many draconian sentences put legislated by politicians who are eager to prove that they are tough on crime. This is inefficient. I was just talking to my attorney about this.Enough is enough. “Tough on crime” should only apply to the true criminals. We are now creating criminals in order to incarcerate them so we can say we are “tough on crime”.

    Larry

    October 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm


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