Criminal Justice

May 22, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
Introducing Court Watch

Over the last two years, West Virginians have learned about horrifying conditions inside our state jails and prisons. Thanks to the courage and diligence of people closest to these problems, we have seen past the walls. Residents served rotten or undercooked food. Cells with “broken toilets, busted windows, no hot water, exposed electrical wires and…

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May 9, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
The Working Man and the Company Store

New Yorker - On a snowy day in late January, Zach Shrewsbury, a thirty-two-year-old Marine Corps veteran, picked me up in his battered Chrysler 300, near the West Virginia state capitol. Our first stop was a gas station, where Shrewsbury bought a gallon of wiper fluid and, because his wiper hose had broken the night…

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April 8, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
As WV’s Jail Crisis Mounts, ‘Second Look’ Policies Gain Traction

Public News Service - Amid overcrowding and unsafe conditions in West Virginia jails, state lawmakers introduced bills that would allow judges to take a 'second look' at an individual's original sentence. Read the full article. If a court determines they no longer pose a threat to the community, the person could be released, placed on…

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March 26, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
Legislature Fails to Address Incarceration Crisis During 2024 Regular Session

Ahead of the 2024 legislative session, there seemed to be broad consensus among lawmakers, Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) officials, and the public that addressing multiple crises in our criminal system should be a priority. On the surface, legislators seemed ready to take action. Over the course of the 2024 regular session, more than…

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March 6, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
Senate Quietly Resurrects Bill that Would Prevent Judges from Releasing Defendants Charged with a Felony Without Bail

Mountain State Spotlight, Beckley Register-Herald - Senators are trying to breathe new life into a bill that critics say would lead to more people sitting in jail awaiting trial after a House Committee overwhelmingly rejected the legislation last week.  Read the full article. SB 725 would’ve stripped magistrates — who generally see someone first after they…

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March 6, 2024 by WVCBP
People with Disabilities Over-represented in Justice System

Public News Service - Nationwide, people with disabilities are overrepresented both as victims of crime and those who are accused of crimes, and advocates believe the justice system could do much more to improve accessibility. Read the full article. The system is not always fair to people with autism, cognitive disabilities and learning disorders, and…

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January 18, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
WV Data: Deaths at Regional Jails Fell in 2023, Still Above Historical Totals

Charleston Gazette-Mail - Deaths at state-run jails in West Virginia declined in 2023 from the previous year but remained significantly higher than totals throughout the 2010s. Read the full article. In 2023, 16 incarcerated people died in West Virginia regional jails, according to data the Gazette-Mail obtained from the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation…

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January 18, 2024 by Sara Whitaker
Sara Whitaker: Stop Asking the Fox What Ails the Hen House (Opinion)

Charleston Gazette-Mail - Three days before Christmas, a 24-year-old man died at the Southern Regional Jail in Raleigh County. He was one of at least 27 people who died at that one facility over the past three years. Read the full op-ed. This could be a moment for action — a chance to finally address…

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