West Virginia has overhauled community supervision programs, equipped staff with new skills, and improved the process for making treatment and supervision decisions in order to meet its goal of reducing the number of juveniles in secure facilities by 16 percent by 2020.

The state Legislature set that target in Senate Bill 393 (S.B. 393), which passed in 2015 when West Virginia’s rate of juveniles committed to secure detention facilities was on the rise despite a falling crime rate. The majority of youth placed in custody of the state’s Bureau of Juvenile Services (BJS) had committed low-level, nonviolent offenses. At a price tag of roughly $100,000 to incarcerate a juvenile for a year, the cost was mounting.

S.B. 393 put in place new policies and procedures designed to decrease the number of juveniles being placed in secure residential facilities and increase the use of community-based programs shown to reduce recidivism. Early indications suggest West Virginia is well on its way to reaching its juvenile justice goals.

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