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Report: WV Should Use Cheaper, More Effective Prison Alternatives

December 6, 2007

Logan, WV – West Virginia's prison system is at a crossroads, according to a report being presented on Friday in Logan. The state can either build costly new prisons, or focus on programs that help former inmates make successful transitions to life outside of prison.

The new report, by the West Virginia Council of Churches and Wheeling Jesuit University's Appalachian Institute, recommends increased use of "Day Report Centers," which combine regular drug tests and daily check-ins with drug treatment, anger counseling, and other services.

Father Brian O'Donnell with the Appalachian Institute says the state deserves credit for starting these Centers, and should take the next step by using them as a condition of parole.

"These Day Report Centers have a good track record on changing people's lives, which can't be said for sending people directly to prison. If you turn their lives around, they'll be much more contributing citizens. It'll be better for the entire common good."

The state has seventeen Day Report Centers in operation, with more planned. O'Donnell says they've been a good alternative to incarceration, and would be a valuable tool in the parole process. He suggests West Virginians can help in the effort, too, by participating in new mentoring programs run by the Division of Corrections.

Rob Ferrett/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - WV