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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 88 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 88

(By D. Kelly, Howell, B. Ward, Pritt, and Nestor)

[Introduced April 2, 2021]

 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study the cost of housing prisoners in the State of West Virginia.

Whereas, The State of West Virginia pays a higher rate than other states to house prisoners; and

Whereas, The State of West Virginia paid an average cost of $84.56 a day per prisoner housed in West Virginia prisons in 2019, which equated to $30,866 per prisoner for the fiscal year 2019; and

Whereas, Reports indicate this cost will continue to rise in the coming years; and

Whereas, Prisoners in the State of West Virginia completed 402,047 community service hours in 2019; and

Whereas, More than 52% of prisoners housed in West Virginia have not completed high school; and

Whereas, Prisoners in the State of West Virginia benefit from computer, life skills, substance abuse, college, and vocational classes as well as life skills and prerelease programs which fill in educational and skills gaps and assist in reintegration into civilian life; and

Whereas, Prisoners would continue to benefit from additional programs aimed at reshoring outsourced jobs within the state which may utilize newly developed prisoner skills or assist in the development of new skills for volunteer prisoners; and

Whereas, Farm programs across the country have been a source for revenue and goodwill for prisons within their states and communities while also instructing prisoners in nutrition and agricultural skills; and

Whereas, West Virginia prisoners benefited from a cooperative project with the Division of Corrections and Department of Agriculture in 2014 which harvested 250,000 pounds of potatoes in Huttonsville, as well as 15,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 6,000 pounds of cabbage, 300 bushels of beans, and 2,000 dozen ears of corn which were grown by prisoners across the state and were used to reduced food costs while giving prisoners access to fresh produce; and

Whereas, Prison agriculture and prison industries for outsourced jobs could assist in meeting the financial burden of prisons within the state by generating independent revenue; and

Whereas, Further intentional study into prisoner housing costs and this mutually beneficial expansion of prison programs will empower the Legislature to make an insightful advancement for corrections in the State of West Virginia; therefore, be it

Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance undertake a study of costs of housing prisoners in the State of West Virginia, including study of the expansion of voluntary prison labor programs; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the study analyze the costs and benefits of agricultural prison programs which may utilize volunteer prison labor to develop crops for purchase by outside entities, including schools within West Virginia, which may provide for revenue to the Department of Corrections; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the study include an examination of the costs and benefits of other potential prison industries which could be used to reshore outsourced jobs within West Virginia, including identification of specific industries suitable for the program; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the study include not only the economic effects of the project, including the proposed revenue, but also the intangible benefit to prisons and prisoners; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2022, on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation or resolutions necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report, and to draft necessary legislation be paid from the legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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