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Support HB 3445

Feb 24, 2023 by AFP

On behalf of Americans for Prosperity West Virginia, I urge you to support and House Bill 3445: Relating generally to probation and parole. This vote may be recorded in our 2023 session legislative scorecard.

The goals of community supervision are to provide opportunities to help citizens get back on their feet and reduce their chances of recidivism. Oftentimes, however, it acts as a backdoor back into incarceration, not due to new criminal offenses, but for minor violations of their conditions of supervision. These types of sanctions do not increase public safety and hold individuals back from successfully reentering society.

Unfortunately, from 2010 to 2020, West Virginia was one of only four states to increase its incarceration rate and there are nearly 3,000 more people in jail or prison today than a decade ago. Violations of probation or parole supervision (revocations) play a significant factor in West Virginia’s high incarceration rate, as a large number of them result in prison admissions. In 2020, 45% of the state’s prison admissions resulted from community supervision revocations and the vast majority were for technical violations that did not involve a new crime, such as failing a drug test or missing a meeting with a probation or parole officer.

H.B. 3445 works to help alleviate some of the pressures on our probation and parole system and give more flexibility to supervising officers and the individuals under supervision. The bill would allow probationers to earn incentives for complying with their terms of supervision and paying their financial obligations. It would also grant officers authority to rescind time if individuals under their supervision are not complying. This “carrot and stick” approach is backed by evidence and has been implemented in many other states, such as Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Ultimately, it is imperative for us to address our rising supervision revocations and related incarceration rates. These are an enormous drain on the West Virginia economy and taxpayers, cause irreparable damage to our families and communities, and do nothing to make us safer. While there is much to be done, H.B. 3445 is a step toward helping West Virginians integrate back into their communities when they need it most and reforming our probation and paroles systems.

It is for these reasons we ask you to support HB 3445.