W.Va. prison reform bill advances to Senate floor

CHARLESTON (AP) — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s plan for changes in the state’s prison system has unanimously passed the Senate Finance Committee and could be voted on by the full Senate on Thursday.

The bill to try to ease crisis-level crowding in state prisons and regional jails was only briefly discussed before passing Monday.

According to projections, the reforms will halt growth in the state’s prisons, saving about $115 million over the next five years. The bill calls for a reinvestment of $25 million over the next five years for expanded post-release supervision and drug treatment programs.

The reforms aren’t expected to substantially decrease the current prison population.

The bill’s provisions for early release for non-violent offenders and relaxed punishments for probation violators are likely to be debated in the House of Delegates.

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