Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘west virginia

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

West Virginia’s Prison Overcrowding Crisis

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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.

Written by sara

February 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

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