CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia House has passed a bill to reform the state's critically overcrowded prisons and regional jails and it will soon head to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature.
The bill passed by the House 81-17 Friday ramps up supervision and drug treatment for prisoners after they have been released. Senate leadership said they will accept the House version of the bill despite significant differences between the two. Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo said the House version is the best they're going to get.
Estimates predict that the bill will halt the growth in prison population but not substantially reduce the number of people in prison.
The House bill differs from the bill passed by the Senate in two major ways. It would grant non-violent offenders six months early supervised release, but only at a judge's discretion not automatically. That change is expected to reduce the bill's fiscal savings by $9 million next year.
It also mandates that every county participate in drug courts by 2016.