The state Division of Justice and Community Services funded the pilot with a $300,000 grant, dispersing it evenly between Mercer, Wayne, Brooke, Greenbrier and Wood counties as officials from each jurisdiction gradually showed interest in starting their own release programs.
A February Gazette report found that officials in the pilot counties do not track statistical information -- like failure to appear rates -- that generally determine whether a program is working. Last year, regional jail bills had risen in every pilot county except for Brooke.
"We definitely feel that statistically, throughout the United States, pretrial release has not proven to be a successful thing," Garvin said. "It looks to me like it's going to cost the state more money than it's going to provide."
Cann said that the current pretrial release bill is based on assurances from Brooke County officials that their program has been successful in curbing regional jail costs. Cann said that he did not examine the pilots in the other four counties.
"I made myself familiar with what the [1st Judicial Circuit] has done and what their success is," Cann said. "I have history with them and trust and believe that they go after these type of programs to make sure they do what's best for their communities."
It is not clear whether the bill will include language that bars counties from releasing inmates accused of violent crimes, like robbery or sexual assault. Cann said the program is not intended for such inmates, but no versions of the bill posted on the Legislature's website appeared to list eligibility requirements.
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, pointed out that the bill calls for counties to establish a board that consists of a prosecutor, a county commissioner, sheriff, and defense lawyer to make recommendations on which inmates would be released.
"I think they would not allow a violent felon to participate in this kind of program," he said. "That leaves the decision up to the judge to make the final call."
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.