CHARLESTON – The first probation officers hired specifically to supervise sex offenders under provisions of the Child Protection Act of 2006 (House Bill 101, passed June 14, 2006) were sworn in today in the Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin delivered the oath of office. The five probation officers will work in Region Five, which consists of Boone, Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne counties.

"The five officers will operate a pilot program to carry out provisions of the new law, which requires extended supervision for sexual offenders, especially those convicted of crimes against children," said Mike Lacy, Director of the Division of Probation Services.

After the pilot program runs for about nine months, the supervision program will be expanded one region at a time throughout the state over the next two or three years. A total of 30 probation officers eventually will be hired to carry out provisions of the law.

A new position already has been created within the Administrative Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals to oversee the Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Program. Caren Bills began work on Sept. 2 at that position, Deputy Director of the Division of Probation Services. She previously was Chief Probation Officer in Putnam County and has worked as a probation officer in West Virginia since 1991.

The program was developed under the leadership of Justice Robin Jean Davis when she was Chief Justice in 2006 and 2007. Her support was crucial in refining the vision of the supervision protocol. Her work was a continuation of her interest in protecting children in our communities during her "Year of the Child" in 2006 and "Year of the Child, Too" in 2007.

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