WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

UPDATE: Kanawha Co. Municipalities Work with Prosecutor to Target Criminals

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

UPDATE @11:15 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Sounds of change can be heard around the Charleston Police Department as construction continues for a new part of the building .

It's a place to put law-breakers behind bars and is the result of a new plan to prosecute crimes on a municipal level instead of by the county.

From now on, most misdemeanor offenses will be handled by cities. South Charleston, Dunbar and St. Albans are using the new system in addition to Charleston.

Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants says the switch allows his staff to concentrate on the big cases.

"This will actually free up some of my resources so that I can focus on misdemeanors that are committed by repeat offenders," he said.

Plants says the move will also help save taxpayer money. He says local judges usually know offenders in their cities and are better equipped to decide who belongs in jail and who doesn't.

"Most city ordinance violations don't deserve jail time," he said. " I want to try to focus on the defendants who need jail time and really direct resources to putting repeat offenders behind bars."

The process is already up and running in St. Albans, where police say it gives them more time to keep you safe by patrolling the streets.

"Our officers like it because of the convenience factor," Captain James Agee said. "We don't have to drive to Charleston and drop off paperwork in the middle of the night and then take someone back to town."

Agee says the old method usually added about an hour to every arrest they made.

Prosecutors say all misdemeanor cases involving juveniles, domestic violence or DUI will still be handled on the county level.



ORIGINAL STORY
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County prosecutors are now sharing their workload with local municipalities in attempt to target career criminals.

Officials say more traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses will now be prosecuted at the municipal level, freeing up resources for prosecutors to work on felony cases.

Charleston, South Charleston, St. Albans and Dunbar will now be taking on more cases.

Prosecutor Mark Plants says the move allows municipal judges and law enforcement to identify repeat misdemeanor offenders that may not be as familiar to county officials.

"By dividing the workload, these municipalities will have greater control over crime in their city and generate an income stream," he said.

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