Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced on June 18 a state partnership with Pew Charitable Trusts.
The partnership allows the state to receive a comprehensive review of West Virginia’s juvenile justice system.
“As we continue to put emphasis on reforming West Virginian’s justice system, we must also move toward a more effective approach for juveniles,” Tomblin said. “One that embraces community-based treatment and tells our children we care about them and their future.”
Tomblin is also looking at establishing the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare.
The task force is set to bring together a cooperation of leaders from all branches of government to review date trends, evaluate the use of evidence-based program in the state, develop specific, tailored recommendations for improvements and implement a common-sense approach to the juvenile justice system, according to the governor’s office.
Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, said legislators are looking at how to prevent juveniles from going into the system.
Unger said committees are also addressing, once a juvenile is in the system, how to train them so when they are released they can be assisted to gain employment rather than get into trouble as an adult.
“I’ve been working with the PEW on doing something in addition to that called Results First in directing our budget to getting results,” Unger said. “Hopefully, it can put us as one of the leading states in juvenile justice reform in the country.”
Unger said several violent situations at juvenile detention centers have occurred, and facilities have to be built differently than adult correctional centers.
“It shows we need to be moving further down the road in reform here in the state,” Unger added. “We’ve been doing that.”?