CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Looking for solutions to the problems with the juvenile justice system, Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, appointed five senators to serve on the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice.
The task force was formed through an executive order earlier this year and is similar to the Justice Reinvestment Act that the Governor created in 2012. It will focus on reviewing and making needed and necessary changes to West Virginia’s juvenile justice system.
“Overhauling the state’s juvenile justice system is a big undertaking that affects everyone,” said Kessler. “I am confident that the senators I named to the task force will work hard to develop recommendations that will ultimately improve outcomes for youth, families and communities.”
Kessler made following appointments: Senate Majority Whip Bill Laird, D-Fayette; Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley; Sen. Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire; Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph; and Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam.
“Speaking on behalf of the senators named to the task force, we look forward to working with the Governor in order to find data-driven solutions to the problems plaguing our juvenile justice system,” said Kessler.“I’m naming Senate Majority Whip Bill Laird head of the senate delegation to the task force,” said Kessler. “His extensive law enforcement background, in addition to him serving on the Council of State Governments’ prison overcrowding working group, will be extremely beneficial to the task force.”
Kessler called Unger a staunch advocate for children that works tirelessly on children’s issues and noted that “Senator Cookman, through his service as a circuit court judge, will be a key member of the task force. Senator Cookman has witnessed the problems facing our juvenile justice system from the inside and this first-hand knowledge will prove beneficial.”
Barnes worked closely with the prison overcrowding working group in 2012 and Walters (R-Putnam), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, round out the senate members of the bi-partisan task force.