Last week, the Legislature provided a one-year relief to county governments by freezing the current regional jail per diem at $48.25, rather than allowing it to increase as scheduled to reflect the true daily cost of jail incarceration, nearly $55.
Our new blog post explains why this temporary relief is simply a band-aid fix for county budgets at the expense of state funds, and why it will not solve the overcrowded, costly regional jail crisis.
In order to reduce jail costs, you must reduce the jail population. This can be achieved in any number of ways, but a good place for West Virginia to start is to properly adhere to HB 2419 — last year’s modest bail reform law — which currently has not been implemented in a way that honors its purpose.
Learn more in Quenton and Myya’s full blog post.
Throughout the pandemic, legislation was passed to address the heightened levels of hunger experienced nationwide. Now, through the American Families Plan, Congress has the opportunity to build upon and significantly strengthen our country’s response to food insecurity.
Our newest blog post explores three major ways the AFP would combat childhood hunger:
– Expanding the Community Eligibility Provision for school feeding programs
– Expanding the Summer EBT program
– Launching a healthy foods incentive demonstration
In the most recent Census Pulse Data, over 60,000 West Virginia households with children reported experiencing difficulty getting enough food to eat. The American Families Plan would provide critical support that endorses what we already know: no child should ever go hungry.
Read Sarah’s full blog post here.
As Pride Month comes to a close — and in the wake of a particularly discriminatory and damaging legislative session — a reminder from WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombe that LGBTQ-specific data collection desperately needs to be prioritized at both the state and federal levels in order to design and implement meaningful and effective responses to the many inequities experienced by the queer community. Excerpt from her recent op-ed below:
Every June, the United States and the world uplift and celebrate the LGBTQ community — their history, their achievements, their identities and more — through Pride Month.
But at its core, Pride Month is about advocacy. It is about queer folks fighting for sociopolitical autonomy, acceptance and freedom. While much of such advocacy has centered around decades of lived experiences, supporting the LGBTQ community also should include prioritizing the collection of data that supports the particular challenges this community faces — especially against the onslaught of anti-transgender bills that legislative bodies across the country have recently considered.
The lack of vital information gathered around the LGBTQ community, in West Virginia and nationally, was on display in the 2021 state legislative session. Despite not knowing how many students would be affected by the anti-transgender sports bill — or even being able to recall past instances to support its passage — the governor signed the bill into law.
Such action highlights a lack of fundamental awareness that has subjected the community to an inconsistent patchwork of protections that inadequately address systemic anti-queerness and, in some cases, worsen the community’s access to programs and services that should be available to all.
Read Rhonda’s full op-ed here.
A new article from Mountain State Spotlight featuring insight from WVCBP criminal justice policy analyst Quenton King examines the seemingly endless stream of individual drug cases that move through West Virginia’s overburdened state and federal court system. Excerpt below:
Thousands of West Virginians are funneled through state and federal courts for drug charges each year. The procedural hearings can last minutes. But the consequences of a guilty plea or verdict are severe: years in prison — probation if you’re lucky.
Often, the defendants and plaintiffs reach a plea deal and the case doesn’t even go to trial.
In 2017, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin likened that process to an assembly line, and wrote that “a contract entered into in the shadows of a private meeting” eliminated the role of an effective criminal justice system where defendants have due process.
“When it’s an individual [being tried], the consequences of the trial are really severe. It’s the person’s life. No matter what happens, it will upend their life,” said Rachel Kincaid, a former assistant federal prosecutor in West Virginia’s Southern District.
Overdose deaths reached record numbers in 2020, when at least 1,275 West Virginians died from drug overdoses amid the pandemic. Although the drugs have changed over the years — there were increases in meth and fentanyl overdose deaths last year — the community impact remains. Many West Virginians are stuck in a cycle of addiction and criminal penalty.
“There’s a never ending supply of people to prosecute for drug crimes because we’re not doing anything to stop the source of the drug crimes,” said Kincaid, the former federal prosecutor. “There aren’t enough resources to get at the source of the problem … which is addiction.”
Read the full article here.
The Food for All coalition — along with 150+ signees including charitable food access agencies, food system practitioners, nutrition and health care professionals, directly impacted constituents, and more — have written Senators Manchin & Capito to vote to pass the American Families Plan and provide critical support to address food insecurity and poverty in West Virginia. This initiative would significantly reduce the food access barriers and burdens faced by hundreds of thousands of households in our state.
You can read the full letter here.
The American Rescue Plan authorized significant but temporary changes to the Child Tax Credit. Here are four changes that might help you with the financial burden of raising a family:
1. The credit amount has been increased. The American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.
2. The credit’s scope has been expanded. Children 17 years old and younger, as opposed to 16 years old and younger, will now be covered by the Child Tax Credit.
3. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. Individuals eligible for a 2021 Child Tax Credit will receive advance payments of the individual’s credit, which the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will make through periodic payments from July 1 to December 31, 2021. This change will allow struggling families to receive financial assistance now, rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit.
4. The credit is now fully refundable. By making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, low- income households will be entitled to receive the full credit benefit, as significantly expanded and increased by the American Rescue Plan.
If any of these circumstances apply to you, we’d love to hear how your family will be impacted! Please let us know by taking our survey here.
President Biden’s American Families Plan (AFP) proposal features major investments in K-12 education, child care, higher education, health care, and paid leave, as well as extended tax cuts for families and workers with children.
The AFP also includes revenue-raising proposals that would affect only very high-income taxpayers. And while the benefits of the AFP would be broadly shared, these tax increases would impact only .01 percent of West Virginia taxpayers — the smallest share in the nation — and work toward a tax system that raises more adequate revenue from those who have seen disproportionate income wealth gains in recent decades.
Join us in urging Senators Manchin and Capito to support the AFP and do their part to invest in West Virginia’s economic recovery and fund our future by sending them a letter here.
Find details of how the AFP benefits West Virginia children, workers, families, uninsured individuals, and veterans in our Twitter thread.
Learn more about how the AFP would serve as equitable tax reform in Sean’s full blog post.
Paid Leave Works for WV (PLWWV) is a broad coalition of stakeholders focused on advocating for a robust paid family and medical leave policy that ensures no one has to choose between their job and caring for themselves or a loved one.
The coalition is looking to collect stories from across the Mountain State. If you and your family have benefited from paid leave or have struggled due to lack of access to paid leave, please share your story and help us advocate to make this policy available for all West Virginians. We encourage you to share the form with relevant friends and family members, too!
PLWWV has also begun a letter writing campaign to urge Senators Manchin and Capito to prioritize paid family and medical leave. You can send a letter here.
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