Ashton Marra Published

State Making Progress in Reducing Prison Population


It’s only been a little over a year since Governor Tomblin signed the Justice Reinvestment Act into law, but the state is already seeing results in the amount of people being held in state jails and prisons.

The legislation was passed in 2013 by the state legislature and was crafted in partnership with the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. It suggested states look at corrections in a slightly different way, focusing on rehabilitation and integrating inmates back into society by giving them access to more classes while they’re in prison, assisting them in securing housing, and preparing them for parole and probation.

At a press conference with the CSG in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Tomblin presented the most recent prison population numbers for West Virginia.

He reported the state has decreased its prison population by about 5 percent for the first time in 16 years. In the regional jails, the overcrowding  is down by more than 50 percent. Those numbers are significantly less that what estimates predicted.

He equated those decreased numbers to the success of the Justice Reinvestment Program, but says there is still work to be done helping inmates adjust to society when they are returned to their communities.

Editor’s Note: Previously reported numbers of the decrease in population were incorrect. This story now reflects the correct decrease in prison population.