WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told a Capitol Hill gathering that West Virginia’s Justice Reinvestment Act has reduced the inmate population in prisons and regional jails by 5 percent during the past year.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center hosted Thursday’s meeting for Tomblin and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to tell members of Congress how well justice reinvestment has worked.

“In April 2013 we had nearly 7,100 prisoners in our state and last Thursday that figure was down to 6,743,” Tomblin said. “We’ve reduced overcrowding in our regional jail facilities by nearly 50 percent.”

Tomblin, state corrections officials and state lawmakers worked with the Justice Center during the past two years to put a plan in place that’s aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders by establishing workforce training programs and community-based substance abuse programs. The program also works through the circuit court system.

Tomblin told those at Thursday’s announcement about the recent awarding of $1.2 million in grants for those community-based drug abuse programs and recovery services.

“This funding is the first step in our plan to reinvest money to fight substance abuse in the Mountain State,” he said. “By identifying and putting commonsense solutions in place we are protecting public safety and our state’s finances at the same time.”

Tomblin said without the new effort the state was looking at building an additional prison that would have cost more than $220 million.

The governor said the message to criminals in West Virginia is they will do their time but “we will take responsible steps to rehabilitate you and give you every opportunity to become a productive member of society again, if that’s a step you are willing to take.”

The National Reentry Resource Center said eight other states have seen reductions in repeat offenders in recent years including Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

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  • Gary R

    It isn't working governor. Your out of touch. In Grant County almost everything is plea bargained There isn't prosecutors and judges in this state. They are a joke Very few people get jail sentences. Most of the sentences are suspended. Wake up governor..

  • the truth

    I would say it is counties using diversion programs. They basically slap you on the wrist and you promise to be good and you do not go to jail.

  • Math Check

    7,100 Inmates in April 2013

    Down to 6,743 Last Thursday ???

    Is that Nearly 50% Lower

    • Biff

      The math is correct because there is a difference between the total number of inmates and the number of inmates that represent overcrowding. The 5% refers to the total number of inmates which went down by 257. That 257 represents an overcrowding reduction of 50% meaning that the prisons and jails were overcrowded by 514 inmates and are now overcrowded by 257 inmates, a 50% reduction. Since the purpose of justice reinvestment was to reduce overcrowding, this is evidence that the effort has been effective.

      • Biff

        Excuse me. The 5% reduction constitutes 357 inmates not 257, making the overcrowding population 714 not 514.

    • DWL

      That must be using common core cyphering!

  • DWL

    But we're going to fill them up again with the liberal, democratic, dirty and corrupt politicians. We need more jails just for them!