CHARLESTON – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has received recommendations and a final report from the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice.
In June, Tomblin launched a comprehensive review of the state's juvenile justice system and charged the task force with developing specific recommendations to strengthen and improve West Virginia's juvenile system.
"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 programming and tells our children we care about them and their future," Tomblin said. "This comprehensive review provides us with the information we need to create better opportunities to improve outcomes for our youth and their families and increase accountability for juveniles and the justice system, while also protecting public safety and responsibly managing our state's finances."
The final report highlights the need for a stronger network of evidence-based programming in communities across the state, which will permit many lower-level offenders to be safely and more effectively held accountable in their home communities.
Among the specific recommendations:
- expanding opportunities for early intervention and diversion by providing additional tools in schools to address truancy;
- enhancing effective community services and expanding evidence-based options to give judges proven tools to reduce juvenile delinquency;
- increasing data collection and information sharing to ensure taxpayer dollars are used in the most efficient ways; and
- targeting system resources to the right youth at the right time to further reduce reoffending.
The task force was established through a collaborative, bipartisan effort of West Virginia's three branches of government. It focused on 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.