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Judiciary chairman: Criminal justice reform ‘humanitarian’ and ‘economic’ issue


Charleston Gazette-Mail


Del. John Scott, R-Mercer
(Gazette-Mail photo by Craig Hudson)

In a break from tough-on-crime thinking, the Legislature is moving a series of bills designed to keep ex-convicts out of jails, not reel more in.

From letting certain nonviolent offenders clear their records after years of good behavior, to allowing the dismissal of drug offenses after people complete drug court programs, to helping released inmates obtain state identification, lawmakers are trying to reduce recidivism rates in West Virginia.

According to the most recent state data, about 24 percent of offenders released in 2014 were recommitted to the criminal justice system within three years. Of the lot, roughly 44 percent were re-convicted within one year of release.

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