CHARLESTON – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday joined with justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, members of the West Virginia Legislature and representatives of Pew Charitable Trusts 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," 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 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," 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, 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.