UPDATE: WV HAS LOW REPEAT RATE FOR CRIMES - Leads Nation In Prison Growth, 1,200 Inmates Can't Be Paroled Because Courses Not Available

(05/21/2012)

By Bob Weaver

The US incarcerates citizens at 7-10 times higher than most of the world's developed nations.

West Virginia has the second largest growing prison population in the USA, while the crime statistics are among the lowest in the nation.

The WV Division of Corrections says that inmates released from West Virginia prisons are less likely to commit new crimes than those in nearly every other state.

That's what Division of Corrections officials has told lawmakers.

The latest figures for WV say the recidivism rate is below 27 percent, with the national average at 43 percent.

West Virginia has nearly 7,OOO inmates, but about 1,700 of those are in jails instead of prisons for lack of space.

A new report says 1,200 to 1,800 inmates housed in the state's regional jails who are eligible for parole cannot exercise the option because the state does not provide required counseling, treatment and rehabilitation courses.

Correction officials say it would take about $1.5 million to provide the courses necessary for parole.

Regarding the high incarceration number, officials say if nothing changes, WV will have 8,500 inmates in five years.

The state continues to study the problem, considering lesser sentences for non-violent offenders and more day and treatment programs for drug offenders.

Jail costs have continued to put a strain on county budgets.


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