Palumbo said the Justice Center has had success in reducing prison overcrowding in 15 other states. The recommendations worked so well in Texas, for instance, that the state recently was able to close down a prison.
"They have a very successful and proven track record," Palumbo said.
Critics, however, argued Tuesday that the Justice Center's recommendations and the governor's bill don't go far enough to address issues contributing to severe overcrowding in the state's prisons and Regional Jails.
Dave McMahon of Mountain State Justice noted that the Justice Center's own report suggests that implementing the recommended changes will not reduce the number of inmates, but will stabilize the state prison population at about 7,400 inmates.
"The governor's bill does not relieve jail overcrowding. He didn't go after the biggest problems that could solve it," McMahon said.
McMahon said the bill does not go far enough to promote early parole, or to use community corrections as a sentencing alternative. He said the bill also fails to address excessively long, draconian sentences in the state's criminal law.
"Our minimum sentence for armed robbery is Ohio's maximum sentence," he said.
Palumbo agreed that sentencing should be part of the Legislature's review, noting, "I think we need to look at the whole picture."
Alyson Clements, with ACLU of West Virginia, said the bill also does not address ways to help former inmates become productive members of society.
"They're calling it justice reinvestment, but how does it reinvest in society?" she asked.
Senate Judiciary will be the first committee to take up the legislation, and Palumbo said it's likely to be on the committee agenda next week.
"I don't anticipate we'll have it on the agenda before next week, but I would anticipate we'll do it fairly quickly," he said. "I think most people on committee should be fairly familiar with what's in the bill, because of the good explanation we got from the Justice Center last week."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.