In effect for more than a year, West Virginia legislation to reduce prison overcrowding by reducing recidivism and substance abuse is having a positive impact, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, reports the West Virginia Gazette-Mail. “Since I signed West Virginia's Justice Reinvestment Act, we have had a 5 percent reduction in our prison population,” Tomblin said in Washington, D.C. The law was enacted in May 2013, after a yearlong study coordinated by the Council of State Governments' Justice Center, which recommended reducing prison overcrowding with accelerated probation and parole for nonviolent offenders, and better community-based resources for parolees, including substance-abuse treatment programs.
Tomblin said the state has continued efforts to reduce re-offense rates with new workforce training programs, assistance in helping parolees find appropriate housing and efforts to ensure access to community-based substance-abuse treatment for those released from prison, funded through Medicaid expansion. “In West Virginia, our message is clear: If you commit a crime in the Mountain State, you will get caught, you will do your time and we will take reasonable, responsible steps to rehabilitate you and give you every opportunity to become a productive member of society, if that's a step you are willing to take,” Tomblin said.