Blog Posts > Safe Communities in West Virginia: A Conversation About Policing
July 31, 2020

Safe Communities in West Virginia: A Conversation About Policing

This Monday, August 3, join national expert Professor Alex Vitale and state and local leaders for an in-depth discussion on redefining policing and public safety in West Virginia. Professor Vitale will give a presentation about the research and analysis in his book The End of Policing which he summarizes this way:

“I would say that we over-rely on policing as the only mechanism to create public safety and that we need to create specific, targeted interventions at the community level to make communities safer in ways that don’t rely on armed police, while we work to address larger issues of economic and racial injustice.”

Professor Vitale’s presentation will be followed by a discussion with panelists and time for Q&A. 

The event is free and will be streamed on Facebook Live. Find more details and RSVP here.

Republican Plan Fails to Meet Needs of West Virginia Families or Match Scope of Unprecedented Economic Challenges

The Republican COVID-19 relief plan unveiled this week fails to meet the significant needs facing West Virginia families and doesn’t address unprecedented state and local fiscal crises, which means it will make the recession longer and more painful.

“More than 3 in 10 West Virginia renters are behind on rent and facing housing insecurity because of the public health crisis and recession. Food insecurity among children and adults has spiked across our state. This crisis is bigger than any in our lifetime, and the GOP’s proposal does not meet the moment or the need faced by our state’s residents.

“Our U.S. Senators, Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, must put people first by calling on congressional leaders to do more and pass a better relief package, especially for state and local governments and low-income West Virginians who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and are facing the greatest financial hurdles. Our federal response must be proportionate to the magnitude of the crisis we are facing, not bound by an arbitrary cost cap.”

-Kelly Allen, interim executive director of WVCBP

The Center is calling on Congress to negotiate a bipartisan agreement that:

  • Provides additional federal funding for Medicaid programs and direct grants to states, territories, and tribes to protect core public services including education and health care, in addition to aid for local governments;
  • Temporarily increases SNAP benefits and housing assistance so people can get enough to eat and keep a roof over their heads;
  • Temporarily makes the Child Tax Credit available to the lowest-income children and expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-paid workers not raising kids in their homes;  
  • Creates an emergency fund for states to help people who are falling through the cracks and to create subsidized jobs programs when workers can participate safely; and 
  • Continues expanded unemployment benefits at CARES Act levels.

Read our full statement here.

Learn more about the shortcomings of the Republican COVID relief proposal here.

Sign our petition urging Senators Manchin and Capito to protect the well-being of West Virginians here.

Leverage Medicaid to Strengthen our Recovery

July 30 marks the 55th anniversary of Medicaid. Medicaid is a powerhouse state-federal partnership, providing health coverage to over 560,000 West Virginians, bringing over $3 billion in federal health care funding into our state each year, and supporting hospitals and health care jobs all over the state. While always essential, Medicaid is especially effective during economic downturns and public health crises – both of which our state is experiencing right now.

Medicaid’s joint financing structure makes it particularly responsive in these crises, because in addition to being a state expenditure, it is also the largest source of federal revenue in our state budget. As medical costs rise, Medicaid responds and federal payments automatically adjust upward via the federal match to cover the bulk of added health care costs. In addition to having an important economic impact, Medicaid will be critical to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensuring that the tens of thousands of West Virginians who have lost their jobs during the economic crisis are able to maintain access to regular and preventive care.

While Medicaid is already having an incredible impact in fighting the pandemic, there are ways to improve the program’s effectiveness at both the state and federal levels.

Read Kelly’s full blog post.

Jail Bookings Dropped during Initial Months of COVID-19 Emergency, but Momentum is Reversing

As the Huttonsville Correctional Center outbreak and numerous outbreaks around the country have demonstrated, jails and prisons are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission. Earlier analyses looked at the overall jail and prison population reduction in the state and the change in arrest rates in Charleston, WV in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, using newly available data from public records requests, we are able to examine the change in regional jail bookings at the county level since policy responses to COVID-19 began. Our analysis shows that counties quickly began reducing arrests during the beginning of the pandemic, but that this momentum may have stalled as the crisis persists in the state.  

Read Quenton and Bryan’s blog post here

Urgent Need to Increase Maximum SNAP Benefits

The Senate Republican COVID relief proposal released this week failed to include the much-needed 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit for all households. As Congress hits the final stages of negotiations for the next federal package, it is imperative that policymakers include this essential boost to SNAP.

The number of people struggling to put food on the table has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic and recession, particularly in households with children.

SNAP is America’s most successful anti-hunger program. It has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms available both to reach low-income households and to provide counter-cyclical help in recessions. The modest boost described above would help millions of American families, resulting in about $25 more per person per month.

Watch the YouTube video here to learn more about why SNAP matters now more than ever.

2020 Summit on Race Matters in West Virginia

The Center is proud to support this series diving into important dialogues that are too often neglected in our state. 

Join us and register here.

ReImagine Appalachia: A Coalition Working to Create a New Deal for Us

ReImagine Appalachia is a coalition whose mission is to create a future for the Ohio Valley that’s good for workers, communities, and the environment.

The group released its policy blueprint last week outlining how it plans to expand opportunity through public investments, build a 21st century sustainable Appalachia, and rebuild the middle class. The coalition framework was created by and for Appalachians, and we are excited to be a part of this innovative and ambitious new effort.

Take a moment to learn more about the coalition here.

Petition to Tell Senators to Support the Revitalization of Coalfield Communities through the RECLAIM Act

West Virginia’s coal-impacted communities have been heavily burdened with economic, environmental, and public health problems as a result of the mining industry. The RECLAIM Act would release $1.6 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund to jumpstart the reclamation of mine land abandoned before 1976. In West Virginia, the RECLAIM Act would make available approximately $200 million over five years to support reclamation projects that would work to clean up our communities.

Urge your senators to pass the RECLAIM Act here.

Petition to Tell Senators Manchin and Capito to Protect Critical Health Care, Jobs, and Public Services

The US Senate is going to vote soon on COVID-19 relief. Time is running out for Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement that will give West Virginia families and our communities the help we need. What’s been proposed in the Senate isn’t good enough. 

Urge Senators Manchin and Capito to help get West Virginia what we need to survive, recover, and thrive.

Sign the petition here.

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