Senate Bill No. 348
(By Senators Laird, Unger, Snyder, Foster, Kessler (Acting President), Stollings and Klempa)
[Introduced January 31, 2011; referred to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §62-11A-1a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to criminal procedure; and allowing certain offenders to participate in a community work program in lieu of the payment of any fines or court costs.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §62-11A-1a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 11A. RELEASE FOR WORK AND OTHER PURPOSES.
§62-11A-1a. Other sentencing alternatives.
(a) Any person who has been convicted in a circuit court or in a magistrate court under any criminal provision of this code of a misdemeanor or felony, which is punishable by imposition of a fine or confinement in the county or regional jail or a state correctional facility, or both fine and confinement, may, in the discretion of the sentencing judge or magistrate, as an alternative to the sentence imposed by statute for the crime, be sentenced under one of the following programs:
(1) The weekend jail program under which persons would be required to spend weekends or other days normally off from work in jail;
(2) The work program under which sentenced persons would be required to spend the first two or more days of their sentence in jail and then, in the discretion of the court, would be assigned to a county agency to perform labor within the jail, or in and upon the buildings, grounds, institutions, bridges, roads, including orphaned roads used by the general public and public works within the county. Eight hours of labor are to be credited as one day of the sentence imposed. Persons sentenced under this program may be required to provide their own transportation to and from the work site, lunch and work clothes; or
(3) The community service program under which persons sentenced would spend no time in jail but would be sentenced to a number of hours or days of community service work with government entities or charitable or nonprofit entities approved by the circuit court. Regarding any portion of the sentence designated as confinement, eight hours of community service work is to be credited as one day of the sentence imposed. Regarding any portion of the sentence designated as a fine or court costs, the fine and court costs is are to be credited at an hourly rate equal to the prevailing federal minimum wage at the time the sentence was imposed. In the discretion of the court, the sentence credits may run concurrently or consecutively. Persons sentenced under this program may be required to provide their own transportation to and from the worksite, lunch and work clothes;
(4) A day-reporting center program if the program has been implemented in the sentencing court's jurisdiction or in the area where the offender resides. For purposes of this subdivision “day-reporting center” means a court-operated or court-approved facility where persons ordered to serve a sentence in this type of facility are required to report under the terms and conditions set by the court for purposes which include, but are not limited to, counseling, employment training, alcohol or drug testing or other medical testing. Labor performed through participation in any community work program administered through a day-reporting center may be credited toward the payment of fines and court costs in accordance with the provisions of subsection three of this article.
(b) In no event may the duration of the alternate sentence exceed the maximum period of incarceration otherwise allowed.
(c) In imposing a sentence under the provisions of this section, the court shall first make the following findings of fact and incorporate them into the court's sentencing order:
(1) The person sentenced was not convicted of an offense for which a mandatory period of confinement is imposed by statute;
(2) In circuit court cases, that the person sentenced is not a habitual criminal within the meaning of sections eighteen and nineteen, article eleven, chapter sixty-one of this code;
(3) In circuit court cases, that the offense underlying the sentence is not a felony offense for which violence or the threat of violence to the person is an element of the offense;
(4) In circuit court cases, that adequate facilities for the administration and supervision of alternative sentencing programs are available through the court's probation officers or the county sheriff or, in magistrate court cases, that adequate facilities for the administration and supervision of alternative sentencing programs are available through the county sheriff; and
(5) That an alternative sentence under provisions of this article will best serve the interests of justice; and
(6) In sentencing an offender to participate in a community work program, in lieu of payment of fines or court costs, the court shall find that the offender lacks the financial resources to pay the fine and court costs and that the interests of justice would best be served through the performance of labor as provided by this article. Labor may not be substituted for moneys that support regional jails.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow people to discharge court costs through participation in a community work program under certain circumstances when the court finds that they have no ability to pay such costs.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.