Tomblin's bill, as passed by the Senate, would allow nonviolent offenders out of jail six months early with supervised release. Violent offenders who do not receive probation would serve their full terms but also be supervised for one year following their release.
Armstead said no one in the House is opposed to prisoners being supervised after they leave prison. He said members just don't want prisoners to be released randomly and fears that would happen under the current bill.
Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said the governor's office would continue to discuss the bill with House leaders and attempt to address their concerns.
"The governor's office has literally put hours in talking to the Democrats and Republican leadership on this. Our main goal is to make sure that, as with all pieces of legis, we address the concerns folks have about the bill," she said.
While Goodwin did not comment specifically on the six-month early release, she said the governor's office is committed to both fixing the state's prison overcrowding problem and preserving public safety.
She pointed out several other states have worked with the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and adopted similar prison reform bills with bipartisan support.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin said in an interview that lawmakers are worried supporting the early-out provision would make them seem soft on crime.
Benjamin, a Republican, said he disagrees with that notion.
"They're still serving their time. They're still under state control," he said.
By allowing prisoners out of jail six months early, Benjamin said the state would greatly reduce the chances they would commit new crimes, and that would improve the safety of all citizens.
He said leaving those prisoners in jail to serve their full terms, only to release them without any supervision, would do the opposite.
"It really enhances the prospects for more crime in West Virginia. And that's something we have the ability to change," Benjamin said.
House Republican Caucus leader Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, said he would be surprised if the prison reform bill were to go down just because of the six-month early-release provision.
Lane said it would save the state only $14 million, while the rest of the bill is set to save more than $100 million between now and 2018, not including the cost of a new state prison.