"Part of these recommendations will require legislative action, and a number of others will require administrative action," he said.
The West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday acted immediately on one of the recommendations, mandating that all convicted felons undergo a risk/needs assessment, and that the results of the assessments be provided to judges before sentencing.
Steve Canterbury, the court's administrative director, said it makes sense to provide that information to judges when they're making sentencing decisions.
Canterbury lauded the Justice Center's recommendations, particularly to expand substance abuse treatment programs for those released from prison.
"Right now, zero dollars are being spent on programs that are focused on probationers and parolees," he said. "We need to expand drug rehabilitation programs in West Virginia that are geared to this population."
If West Virginia is unable to get a handle on its growing inmate population, the state soon will need to build a new prison -- at a cost in excess of $200 million, the Justice Center concluded.
"I know you cannot build your way out of this," Canterbury said. "You must have systemic change."
Delegate Dave Perry, D-Fayette, co-chairman of a legislative interim committee on Regional Jails and Corrections, said he is encouraged by the recommendations.
"It sounds like they're very logical and very cost-effective," Perry said. "They seem very rational, and they sound as if they can be implemented without too much resistance."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.