West Virginia Coping with Prison Overcrowding Problem

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

GREENWOOD, W.Va. (AP) -- For decades, politicians and policymakers have debated what to do about West Virginia's overcrowded jails and prisons. But the "crisis of disturbing proportions" the state Supreme Court predicted in 2002 still looms.

Twice as many convicted felons now sit in regional jails, waiting for a prison bed.

The justices urged legislators to reconsider sentencing laws and grant more parole. But House Republicans killed a bill that sought to start that process.

The nonpartisan Council of State Governments is doing a new study, but others have failed to solve the problem.

Some jailers have a hard time believing this time is different.

West Virginia led the nation in prison population growth between 2000 and 2009, even though its overall population is aging and grew only 2.5 percent during the decade.

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