Criminal justice reform is a bi-partisan issue for a reason: the evidence from success in other states across the country show that wiser investments in corrections dollars lead to better outcomes for everyone.
States like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina have all been national leaders in criminal justice reform and have not only seen drops in their prison population rates, but significant drops in crime. By pursuing prison and sentencing reforms similar to those in the FIRST STEP Act, Texas was able to shut down 8 prisons since 2007 and now has its lowest crime rate since 1967. In fact, the ten states that have reduced their imprisonment rates the most have seen the larger drops in crime rate on average than the ten states that have increased their incarceration rate the most on average.
The good news is the legislature has a number of opportunities to break barriers for West Virginians, including civil asset forfeiture reform, driver’s license restoration, bail reform, changes to current parole practices and others. These reforms will help all West Virginians have a fair chance of pursuing their American dream.