CHARLESTON - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined with justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, members of the West Virginia Legislature and representatives of Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) to announce a landmark, comprehensive review of West Virginia’s juvenile justice system.
“While much of our initial justice reinvestment efforts have focused on addressing our adult corrections system, we must also make every effort to better meet the needs of our youth and prevent them from ever entering our prison system,” Gov. Tomblin said. “As we continue to put emphasis on reforming West Virginia’s justice system, we must also move toward a more effective approach for juveniles - one that embraces community-based treatment and tells our children we care about them and their future.”
Through a collaborative, bipartisan effort of West Virginia’s three branches of government, Pew will engage in a comprehensive review of the state’s juvenile system including services provided through the Division of Juvenile Services, Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Education.
The announcement comes days after Gov. Tomblin’s presentation on progress and early successes of West Virginia’s Justice Reinvestment Act at the Council of State Government Justice Center’s Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results event in Washington, D.C.
“Through our justice reinvestment efforts, we’ve learned data-driven and research-based programs can be successful,” Gov. Tomblin said. “By bringing together those in the community and working with experts like Pew, we can work together to identify best practices that have been proven effective in other states to better serve our young people and prepare them to become contributing members of our communities.”
In the near future, Gov. Tomblin will establish the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare. The task force will bring together a cooperation of leaders from all branches of government to review current date trends, evaluate the use of evidence-based programs in West Virginia, develop specific, tailored recommendations for improvements, and implement a common-sense approach to juvenile justice.
The Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center is located in Boone County at Julian, just off U.S. 119 (Corridor G).
While the majority of this facility is a diagnostic center for Southern West Virginia, this facility maintains 10 hardware secure detention beds primarily for Boone, Logan, Lincoln, Mingo and Logan counties. It can house detention residents from any of West Virginia’s 55 counties as the need allows.
Hardware secure detention centers are for youth who have been charged with a crime which would be punishable by incarceration if committed by an adult. These facilities offer a highly secure environment which includes locked doors, a highly structured environment as well as a fenced recreation area. These facilities are intended to house West Virginia’s most violent offenders and are intended to protect the youth as well as the community at large.
It remains unclear how this review may change programs, policies and procedures at the center.