Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Louisiana Sheriff Offers Jail Space to West Virginia, Which Can’t Accept the Offer

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Apparently, southern Louisiana parishes built too many jails in recent years and now have extra beds. One Louisiana sheriff, Mark Shumate of East Carroll Parish, offered to house inmates from West Virginia, which has been facing overcrowding problems. But West Virginia is constitutionally prohibited from accepting:

[I]nmates can’t be sent to out-of-state facilities because the West Virginia Constitution prohibits the state from transporting any person to another state or forcing them to leave for committing any offense. A constitutional amendment would be required before Shumate’s offer could be considered. Such an amendment would have to be approved by voters statewide.

I would be curious to know if anyone’s looked into how many states have constitutional or statutory provisions like West Virginia’s, and how they affect decisions to privatize and/or contract out to other jurisdictions.

Written by sara

July 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

One Response

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  1. I don’t know how common these provisions are, but I suppose it is originally aimed at prohibiting the use of banishment from the state as a punishment, which seems like a good thing. If that’s the case, perhaps a high court decision recognizing that alleviating prison overcrowding is a different situation could be forthcoming if it came down to a prisoner challenge to the arrangement.

    Just for reference, the W Va constitution says (Art III, sec 3-5), “No person shall be transported out of, or forced to leave the state for any offence committed within the same . . . .”


    August 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm

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