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Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

W.Va. opts not to pursue out-of-state corrections facility



From the Office of the Secretary
West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety
Joe Thornton, Cabinet Secretary

Contact: Lawrence Messina
(304) 558-2930

Jan. 26, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia officials have decided against housing some Division of Corrections inmates outside the state, but will continue to focus on the promising implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act.

West Virginia earlier requested bids for a proposal that aimed to provide programs required for parole eligibility to inmates serving felony sentences in West Virginia’s regional jail system. The proposal envisioned the short-term transfer of up to 400 inmates who agreed to the move to a facility to receive these educational and rehabilitative programs.

State officials explored the option while addressing a rising inmate population and a backlog of prison-sentenced offenders in the regional jails. However, the number of Division of Corrections inmates has declined following passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act championed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Since Gov. Tomblin signed the Justice Reinvestment Act in 2013, that wide-ranging law and related steps have also reduced the regional jail backlog by hundreds of inmates. Legislation enacted last year, meanwhile, has helped to ensure access to needed programs for corrections-sentenced inmates at the jails.

“We remain optimistic that once all of Justice Reinvestment is in place, West Virginia will see an even greater decrease in the inmate population while maintaining the safety and security of its citizens,” said Cabinet Secretary Joseph Thornton of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which oversees both Corrections and regional jails.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein thanked Corrections Corporation of America for its interest in the proposal. CCA was the sole bidder for the project, and proposed to house West Virginia inmates at its Lee Adjustment Center in neighboring Kentucky. Rubenstein was part of a delegation of West Virginia officials that came away impressed following tours of that facility.

“The process with CCA, who would have received this contract had it been awarded, has been nothing but positive and professional,” Rubenstein said. “The Kentucky facility that would have been utilized for the out-of-state placement was well-kept and well-run.”