On this West Virginia Morning, as an alternative to the indoor shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday, a movement called “hashtag opt outside” urges people to get closer to parks, trails, community areas and the joy of being outdoors on that particular day. Randy Yohe took full advantage of the Friday alternative, going on a Blackwater Falls State Park birding hike.Continue Reading Take Me to More News
With the opening of an envelope and the reading of a few numbers, the state Purchasing Office completed a bid opening Thursday for the Division of Corrections.
The request for proposals, known as an RFP in government jargon, asked national companies or state corrections departments to bid on sending West Virginia inmates to their out-of-state facilities in the hopes of curbing the state over crowding problem.
“At one point we had over 1,800 inmates who had been sentenced to the Division of Corrections awaiting bed space in one of the 10 regional jails,” DOC Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said.
The Corrections Corporation of America was one of two companies to attend a mandatory pre-bid conference in October, but is the only bidder on the proposal.
The national organization houses nearly 80,000 offenders at 64 facilities in 20 states. They’re proposing West Virginia send its inmates to their Beattyville, Ky., facility the Lee Adjustment Center.
Lee, a three hour drive from Charleston, has a total of 816 beds and currently houses 450 men from Vermont. The DOC requires West Virginia’s population to be separated from any other out-of-state prisoners at the facility, which CCA said is possible at the Lee Center.
According to their bid, CCA could immediately take 350 inmates from West Virginia with the possibility of expanding to fit up to 400, which Rubenstein calls a temporary solution for the state’s overcrowding problem.
“When I say temporary, I wish I could put more of a time frame on it than that, which I can’t, but by no means is this an out-of-sight, out-of-mind banishment of any sort,” he said Thursday.
“This is purely getting those offenders engaged immediately in the programming, the treatment, the work, everything they need to be involved in being prepared to see the parole board upon their first appearance.”
Classes, counseling and treatment these offenders currently do not have access to in regional jails.
In the RFP, companies were asked to detail how they would meet 68 mandatory items set forth by the DOC. Those included the types of rehabilitative and educational programming available to inmates, a facility that meets the American Correctional Association’s standards and access to medical and mental health services, just to name a few.
“We wanted to match up as close as possible to the operation of our facilities and to meet the needs of what the parole board wanted to see the inmate to achieve when appearing in front of them,” Rubenstein said. “ So, a lot of those manadatories are standards that we consider very critical that allows us to effectively and professionally run our own facilities.”
An evaluation committee will meet Monday to go through all 68 responses, but the bid details one program in particular the company will have to create at the Lee Center in order to meet West Virginia’s requirements- a rehabilitation program for sex offenders.
CCA expects 20 percent of the inmates received from West Virginia to be sex offenders and says they will implement a three phase program that includes pschyo-educational activities, cognitive restructuring and relapse and reentry prevention. The course will allow 15 inmates to attend one 2 hour session per week.
Still, Rubenstein stressed this is just an option for the state.
After the committee review, an oral on-site interview will take place at the Lee Center in the coming weeks, and if all 68 criteria can be met, then the state will open the envelopes containing CCA’s daily rate for housing prisoners.
Rubenstein said they may not know how much it will cost until early January.
From there, he said it becomes the governor’s decision if it is fiscally responsible to give inmates the option to go out-of-state to be housed and receive treatment, or if there are other temporary options the state can pursue to deal with the overpopulation quickly.