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 W.Va. enhancing Justice Reinvestment with Charleston Correctional Center; facility also new HQ of Parole Board

4/30/2015

Joe Thornton,      
Cabinet Secretary


Contact: Lawrence Messina

(304) 558-2930
Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov

April 30, 2015

W.Va. enhancing Justice Reinvestment with Charleston Correctional Center; facility also new HQ of Parole Board

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Offenders seeking to return to productive, law-abiding and drug-free lives have a new home with the debut of the Charleston Correctional Center.

The extensively renovated, 40,000 square-foot facility on the capital city’s East End held its ceremonial opening on Thursday, April 30. It features 96 beds for work-release participants, in male and female dorms, and a separate 32-bed Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) unit for female offenders.  The West Virginia Parole Board is moving to the Hansford Street building as well.

“The Charleston Correctional Center promises to further the goals of Justice Reinvestment by helping inmates recover from substance abuse and successfully rejoin society,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, referring to the landmark reforms he has championed.

For decades, low-risk and non-violent offenders have been housed at the nearby Charleston Work-Release Center on Brooks Street while holding a variety of jobs throughout the area. The Charleston Correctional Center will replace that aging facility, with around 60 current work-release participants relocating to the new building starting next month.

The RSAT unit will provide intensive treatment in a highly structured environment for female Division of Corrections inmates identified as candidates by the scientifically validated assessment tool adopted through Justice Reinvestment. Gov. Tomblin signed that historic, bipartisan legislation into law in 2013 to improve public safety and reduce crime through a research- and data-driven focus on effective, practical programs and policies.

“This modern, secure facility will provide needed services and opportunities and demonstrates our serious commitment to targeting recidivism and protecting the people of West Virginia,” said Secretary Joseph Thornton of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, or DMAPS, which includes both the Division of Corrections and the Parole Board.

The approach of the Charleston Correctional Center also embraces the findings and recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse. Aided by regional task forces, this initiative of Gov. Tomblin’s has played a key role in addressing the scourge of drugs in the Mountain State.

“This facility offers opportunities for the DOC’s lowest-custody offenders as they transition back into society,” said state Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein. “Effective programming and treatment is invaluable as we work to successfully reintegrate offenders back into society, with the main objective being they don’t reoffend and come back to prison.”

The Hansford Street property will also be the new home for the Parole Board. This state agency will have its own entrance, a hearing room equipped for videoconferencing and separate waiting rooms for the families of inmates and crime victims. The Parole Board currently occupies a much smaller space in a leased building it shares with DOC’s central office, and should complete its move by this summer.

“We look forward to the transition, which will give us additional space and permit us to enhance our Parole Board operations,” said Parole Board Chairperson Benita Murphy.

The Charleston Correctional Center also reflects an ongoing partnership with Charleston’s East End. DOC officials have sought to resolve issues raised by residents, including by minimizing contact with work-release participants through a required travel route.

“The community was a little concerned when we started talking about this,” said Jeff Stinnett, administrator of both the new facility and the one it’s replacing. “We’ve been working with the community since that day. We’ve had continual meetings. We’ve kept in touch with them and they’ve been very helpful.”

Charleston Work-Release and its inmates are also directly assisting the community, adopting a nearby stretch of Piedmont Road for trash pick-ups and aiding the upkeep of a local city playground.

“As always, the DOC promises to be a good neighbor and we value the relationships we have formed within the community,” said Rubenstein, who is also a deputy secretary of DMAPS. “We look forward to being an active and integral part of the East End.”

The DOC purchased the 2.5 acre Hansford Street property, which also features a fenced recreation yard, for $1.1 million in late 2011. Renovations to the building, a former warehouse and office space, and property cost around $8.2 million.

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