Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. looking to out of state prisons to help reduce overcrowding

West Virginia’s Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told lawmakers the state is considering sending inmates to out of state facilities to curb overcrowding issues.

So far, two facilities are interested in taking inmates, one in Tennessee and one in Texas.

Rubenstein assured legislators on the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jails and Correctional Facilities Monday while the state does have a Constitutional provision that bans sending inmates out of state involuntarily, it is within the law if they volunteer to be transferred.

Rubenstein said sending inmates who should be in prison, but are held in regional jails to these out of state facilities will give them earlier access to the rehabilitation programs they need.
“I’ve just always looked at it as a temporary solution which is again the belief being that if an individual can take advantage of programming and treatment right off the bat, see the parole board for the first time, have that met that they have a very good chance of being paroled,” he told lawmakers.
Out of state prisons that bid on the contract with West Virginia must be able to provide all of the same programming to inmates they would receive in state.

The bids will be opened November 5 for out of state locations looking to take in populations from West Virginia. From there, Rubenstein said the state will decide if it’s fiscally possible to move forward with the plan.