Increasing Jail Population in West Virginia Impairs State Budget
West Virginia is a state with many things to recommend it. Its natural beauty is rivaled by its peaceful nature and plenty of open space. Unfortunately, there is one area that is becoming increasingly crowded and more of a source of conflict. This is the exploding prison population that no one seems to be able to control.
West Virginia’s Jail Population Has Increased
Were you aware that West Virginia’s total population of jail inmates has increased by an alarming percent within less than two decades? As it happens, the population of inmates in this state increased by just over 81 percent between 2000 and 2019. It jumped from 2,853 in 2000 to 5,172 in that period.
This has placed an enormous strain on the resources of this already overburdened state. Total spending on inmates was $195 per capita on corrections in 2017. This represents a figure that was an increase of 387.5 percent from $40 per capita in 1977. Since then, projected figures continue to rise, never falling.
Money is Being Wasted on Maintaining Jail Populations
Authorities in the state are looking for viable solutions to the issue. But the one thing no one of them seems to be interested in talking about is making solid moves to reduce the total number of people in jail. Instead, the trend toward increasing mass incarceration seems to be proceeding apace with no end in sight.
The truth of the matter is that reducing the budget for jailing inmates would benefit the state by a considerable margin. Instead of spending all the money keeping people locked in prison, the state could focus on funding schools, city parks, libraries, public health centers, and a host of other worthy initiatives.
West Virginia Faces a Major Budget Shortfall
As can be expected, the burden that the increasing jail population puts on the state is absolutely gigantic. Yet voters seem to be oblivious to the consequences come election time. Much of this is unfortunately due to the seeming refusal of West Virginia political candidates to focus on the problem in any productive manner.
The result is an increasing economic burden that is placed squarely on the backs of West Virginia taxpayers. Resources for education, medical care, Covid-19 prevention, and other measures are being used up with no recovery in sight. This is all due to the increasing emphasis on jailing more West Virginia citizens.
The time for people to stand up and speak out against this massive injustice is now. Join us as we work together to put an end to increasing mass incarceration in West Virginia as well as elsewhere in the nation.