CHARLESTON -– Circuit Judge Gary L. Johnson of the 28th Judicial Circuit in Nicholas County received the "Extra Mile Award" from the West Virginia Children's Justice Task Force at its annual conference on Oct. 9 in Charleston.

The award is given each year to someone who has shown excellence in the fighting child abuse and neglect by seeking safety, permanency and well-being for children.

As chairman of the West Virginia Court Improvement Program Oversight Board, Johnson has led multiple initiatives to improve the child welfare system in West Virginia. The West Virginia Court Improvement Program is a multidisciplinary group funded by the Administration for Children and Families and the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Information about the Court Improvement Program is available at www.wvcip.com.

Johnson also is a member of the Commission to Study the Residential Placement of Children, which is led by West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Martha Walker.

Upon receiving the Extra Mile Award, Johnson thanked the members of the Court Improvement Program and all collaborative disciplines for their dedicated work.

He emphasized the need for prevention of child abuse and neglect, saying he thinks that assisting "a child in the playpen" is a better use of resources than housing that child later as an adult "in the state pen."

"Judge Johnson's absolute dedication to children, his common sense approach to issues, and his depth of knowledge of the law does all of us in the Court system proud," state Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury said. "He's clearly one of our best."

This award follows recognition that Johnson has received from the Nicholas County Family Resource Network and Nicholas/Webster Foster Parent Association for his commitment to finding permanent, safe homes for abused and neglected children. He has been declared an "Angel in Adoption" by the United States Congress and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Johnson is the father of five children and resides with his wife, Susan, in Richwood.

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