(05/02/2011)
By Bob Weaver

West Virginia locks-up a lot of offenders.

The state has the second fastest growing prison population in the nation.

Finding money to feed the corrections system has become a major challenge in WV for many counties.

Calhoun has recently resorted to partially paying the regional jail bill in order to keep the county afloat.

At the end of 2010, the state Division of Corrections had custody of 6,681 inmates, rising from 3,870 inmates in 2000.

Critics of the system say the state's crime rate is relatively low.

At the current rate of growth, the number of prisoners is expected to increase to 8,251 by 2015 and to 9,732 by 2020.

The latest statistics and predictions have been released by the WV Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

The report says more than 72 percent of all new prisoners were convicted on nonviolent offenses.

The number of prisoners convicted of violent crimes has been declining.

Convictions for murder, sex crimes and robbery have dropped in recent years.

There have been more convictions for assault.

The report says the proportion of new prisoners convicted for nonviolent drug crimes increased from 15.7 percent in 2004 to 21.9 percent in 2010.

The rate of drunken driving convictions has dropped.

State corrections officials have put the building of a new prison on hold.


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