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West Virginia to study juvenile justice system

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia is joining the Pew Charitable Trusts to study its juvenile justice system and find better ways to keep youthful offenders out of detention centers.

West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, a stark contrast to decreases nationwide. West Virginia had higher rates than the other three states with increases: Nebraska, North Dakota and Idaho.

The study will review programs within the Division of Juvenile Services, Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Education.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, three West Virginia Supreme Court justices, state lawmakers and Pew representatives announced the initiative Wednesday.

Tomblin expects the review to be complete by December. That would give time for lawmakers to consider the suggestions during the January-to-March legislative session.

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