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Introduced Version House Bill 2541 History

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hb2541 intr
H. B. 2541


(By Delegates Amores and Mahan)
[Introduced February 21, 2005; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]




A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §4-13-1, §4-13-2 and §4-13-3; and to further amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §61-13-1, §61-13-2 and §61-13-3, all relating to criminal justice; creating the West Virginia Legislative Criminal Justice Resource Center; creating the joint committee on criminal justice; establishing the duties of the joint committee on criminal justice; allowing access to records; creating the West Virginia criminal justice system task force; and establishing the objectives and duties of the task force.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §4-13-1, §4-13-2 and §4-13-3; and to further amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §61-13-1, §61-13-2 and §61-13-3, all to read as follows:
CHAPTER 4. THE LEGISLATURE.

ARTICLE 13. WEST VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESOURCE CENTER.
§4-13-1. West Virginia legislative criminal justice resource center created.

(a) The West Virginia legislative criminal justice resource center is created in the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
(b) The duties of the West Virginia legislative criminal justice resource center include:
(1) Providing a clearinghouse of criminal justice information for the Legislature;
(2) Providing technical assistance for all criminal justice agencies of the State when directed;
(3) Obtaining information from criminal justice agencies in the State for analyses of criminal justice issues for the Legislature;
(4) Collecting and analyzing criminal justice data for the Legislature;
(5) Producing reports to the Legislature;
(6) Providing independent analyses of the fiscal impact of legislation for the Legislature;
(7) Monitoring performance of criminal justice agencies, including analysis of recidivism rates; and
(8) Providing administrative support to the West Virginia criminal justice system task force.
§4-13-2. Joint committee on criminal justice created; membership; compensation and expenses; meetings.

(a) The joint committee on criminal justice is created. The committee is composed of five members of the Senate, including the chair of the committee on the judiciary, to be appointed by the President of the Senate, no more than three of whom may be appointed from the same political party; five members of the House of Delegates, including the chair of the committee on the judiciary, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, no more than three of whom may be appointed from the same political party. If the membership of a political party is less than fifteen percent in the House of Delegates or the Senate, the membership of that political party from the legislative house with less than fifteen percent membership may be one from that house.
(b) The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates shall each appoint a cochair for the joint committee from the members each appointed in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) The members of the committee may receive no remuneration for their services, other than actual expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties required by this article as approved by the committee.
(d) The committee shall meet upon the call of both or either of the cochairs and may meet at any time, both during sessions of the Legislature and in the interim.
(e) A majority of the committee constitutes a quorum.
§4-13-3. Duties of committee and access to records.
(a) The committee has the following duties:
(1) To set the policy of the West Virginia legislative criminal justice resource center and use the center for certain criminal justice research;
(2) To review and discuss issues relating to criminal justice; and
(3) To make recommendations to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates on issues of criminal justice.
(b) The committee, subject to the approval of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, may employ persons or contract for outside expertise to carry out its duties and responsibilities under this article.
(c) To carry out the duties set forth in this article, the committee or any duly authorized employee of the West Virginia legislative criminal justice resource center is allowed access to any and all records of every criminal justice agency in the State. When furnishing information, agencies shall provide information in the format in which it is requested, if the request is specific as to a preferred format.
CHAPTER 61. CRIMES AND THEIR PUNISHMENT.

ARTICLE 13. THE WEST VIRGINIA CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
§61-13-1. Creation of the West Virginia criminal justice system task force; how members are appointed.

(a) There is created the West Virginia criminal justice system task force.
(b) The task force consists of the following members, who serve without compensation:
(1) Three members of the House of Delegates, to be appointed by the House of Delegates;
(2) Three members of the Senate, to be appointed by the President of the Senate;
(3) The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals;
(4) Two circuit judges, to be appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals;
(5) One magistrate, to be appointed by the supreme court of appeals;
(6) One probation officer, to be appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals;
(7) The executive director of the public defender services;
(8) One prosecuting attorney, to be appointed by the prosecuting attorney's institute;
(9) The executive Director of the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority;
(10) The chair of the parole board;
(11) The Commissioner of the Division of Corrections;
(12) The chair of the Governor's committee on crime, delinquency and corrections;
(13) One member to represent the interests of victims of crime, to be appointed by the Governor;
(14) One rehabilitated former prison inmate, to be appointed by the Governor;
(15) The president of the county commissioners' association;
(16) The Director of the Division of Criminal Justice Services; and
(17) The President of the Sheriffs' Association.
(c) The task force shall elect a chair or cochairs.
(d) The task force shall meet upon the call of the chairs or, if there are cochairs, either of the cochairs.
(e) A majority of the task force constitutes a quorum.
§61-13-2. Objectives of the task force.
The task force shall pursue the following objectives:
(1) Establishing priorities with regard to the severity of the criminal offenses, and in accordance with such established priorities, to consider alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders;
(2) Using the limited correctional resources in a manner best able to fulfill the goals of criminal punishment and protect the public;
(3) Preserving meaningful judicial discretion in imposition of sentences and sufficient flexibility to permit individualized sentences;
(4) Ensuring that sentencing judges are able to impose the most appropriate criminal penalties including correctional options programs for appropriate nonviolent offenders;
(5) Promoting fair and uniform sentencing; and
(6) Researching issues regarding sentencing in order to promote a fuller understanding of the efficient, just and fair operation of this State's criminal justice system.
§61-13-3. Powers and duties of the task force.
The task force may:
(1) Request information, data and reports from any officer or agency of the state government as the task force may from time to time require in furtherance of its objectives; and
(2) Make recommendations to the Legislature concerning modifications or enactment of sentencing and correctional statutes which the task force finds to be necessary and advisable to carry out an effective, humane and rational sentencing policy.




NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide for the creation of the West Virginia Legislative Criminal Justice Resource Center and the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice. The legislation is intended to provide a clearing house for criminal justice information and to offer technical assistance in such matters to law-enforcement agencies. The bill also provides for the collection and analyzation of criminal justice data and that the same be reported to the Legislature. Criminal justice agencies would, additionally, be monitored for performance. Finally, the bill provides for the creation of the West Virginia criminal justice system task force whose duties include "establishing priorities with regard to the severity of the criminal offenses," and to consider alternatives to incarceration. Other duties include deciding: How best to utilize limited correctional resources, how best to allow meaningful judicial discretion and how best to promote fair sentencing.

These articles are new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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