West Virginia began pursuing data-driven juvenile justice reforms in 2014. An Intergovernmental Juvenile Justice Task Force was formed by the governor to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the juvenile justice system and produce recommendations to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities, enhance accountability of juvenile offenders and focus resources on the most serious offenders. In 2015, comprehensive reforms were adopted by the legislature based on the task force recommendations. The new law is expected to reduce the number of youth in residential placements by at least 16 percent and avoid at least $20 million over five years.
SB 393 (2015)
Requires the court to consider results of risk and needs assessment prior to dispositional proceedings. Establishes multidisciplinary teams to advise courts on treatment and rehabilitation plans and monitor a juvenile’s progress. Creates requirements for pre-petition diversion for truancy, status and nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. Provides that a juvenile may be referred to a truancy diversion specialist prior to filing of petition. Requires certain fact findings is a court is to place a juvenile in a residential facility. Stipulates that juveniles can only be transferred to diagnostic centers under certain circumstances.
Prohibits out-of-home placements for status offenders and juvenile-adjudicated delinquents for a nonviolent misdemeanor offense under certain circumstances. Requires aftercare plans for all out-of-home placements. Establishes criteria for transition to home setting following out-of-home placement. Authorizes community-based probation sanctions and incentives and individualized case planning. Establishes review and modification procedures for probation dispositional orders. Established community-based youth reporting centers. Authorizes creation of restorative justice programs. Requires a portion of community services funding be dedicated to evidence-based practices. Establishes a Juvenile Justice Reform Oversight Committee. Requires certain data collection.
Summaries and links to full legislation can also be found in NCSL’s Juvenile Justice Bill Tracking Database.
Return to NCSL’s Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Policy Reform page or learn more about NCSL’s Juvenile Justice Program.