Last fall, Grassroots Leadership caught wind that the West Virginia Department of Corrections was looking to transfer and house up to 400 prisoners out-of-state in attempts to alleviate prison overcrowding at home. Interestingly, the news came the same month that we released our national report, Locked Up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers and the Private Prison Industry, which shed light on the costly and inhumane practice of transferring prisoners across state lines to private for-profit prisons across the country. We moved quickly to organize West Virginia groups and stop the state from moving forward with this short-sighted and harmful policy. In January, we delivered a sign-on letter to state officials signed by more than thirty national and state groups voicing opposition to the plan. And, in June, Grassroots Leadership sent an open-letter to West Virginia prisoners — raising awareness of their constiutional right as West Virginians to stay in their home state.
Today, we are excited to share that the Herald Dispatch has reported the proposal to send prisoners out-of-state is "no longer a priority," according to Commissioner Jim Rubenstein of the state Division of Corrections. According to the article:
"Rubenstein said the idea has now "been put way back on the back burner" because of the current decrease that his agency has been seeing "within the total (inmate) population." This seems to put to rest this earlier proposal that called for the state to possibly house up to 400 inmates at a prison in eastern Kentucky that would be operated by the Corrections Corporation of America."
A decrease in the prison population and the state abandoning the plan to ship prisoners away is cause for celebration! But, work remains across the nation to keep moving in the right direction — to put an end to mass incarceration and an industry that profits from imprisonment.