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On behalf of Americans for Prosperity activists across West Virginia, I urge you to oppose HB 2257, Supervised Release for Drug Offenders. This vote may be recorded in our 2022 session legislative scorecard.
This bill will allow judges to impose up to 10 years of community supervision after an individual has finished serving a sentence in prison or on probation for certain drug offenses.
Americans for Prosperity believes an effective criminal justice system protects people and preserves public safety, respects human dignity, restores victims, removes barriers to opportunity, and ensures equal justice for all under the law. HB 2257 accomplishes none of these goals but will waste precious taxpayer resources. The experience of state like Georgia and Louisiana prove that more evidence-based supervision lengths lead to increased success for those under supervision. This bill fails to consider the body of research showing that after 1-2 years of community supervision, this form of accountability is no longer effective at preventing criminal activity. This means that, under HB 2257, West Virginians would be paying for up to 8 years of supervision which is not proven to enhance public safety while simultaneously costing taxpayers more.
The Mountain State is already a national outlier when it comes to high incarceration rates, which is driving an insolvent fiscal reality—especially for local governments. Prison admissions for violations of probation and parole supervision accounted for nearly half of prison admissions in 2020. 74 percent of these supervision revocations in 2020 were for technical violations, not new criminal charges or convictions. HB 2257 will only exacerbate this issue, and the burden on taxpayers.
The fees allowed by this new bill will also amount to $6,000 in additional payments from those placed under supervision. These will neither cover the full cost of supervision nor seek to make a victim whole but will impose a large financial burden on individuals who are already struggling to secure a second chance and provide for their family.
It is for these reasons we respectfully ask you to oppose HB 2257.