H. B. 2877
(By Delegates Armstead, Schadler,
Azinger, Trump and Hines)
[Introduced February 24, 1999; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter sixty-one of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article thirteen, relating
to the creation of a sentencing commission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter sixty-one of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article thirteen, to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 13. WEST VIRGINIA SENTENCING COMMISSION.
§61-13-1. Creation of sentencing commission; how members are
appointed; no compensation for service of members; terms of office for members; what constitutes quorum; how chairperson elected; executive director.
(a) There is hereby created a West Virginia sentencing commission.
(b) Such commission consists of the following members, who
shall serve without compensation:
(1) One member is the chairperson of the governor's committee
on crime and delinquency, who shall serve as an ex officio
(2) Two members are from the West Virginia House of
Delegates, to be appointed by the speaker of the House;
(3) Two members are members of the West Virginia Senate, to
be appointed by the president of the Senate;
(4) Five members are current or retired circuit or municipal
court judges, to be appointed to their membership on this
commission by the governor;
(5) Four members are citizens of the state of West Virginia,
with no required prerequisite other than citizenship in this
state, to be appointed by the governor;
(6) One member is the presiding chief justice of the West
Virginia supreme court of appeals; who shall serve as an ex
(c) Each member serves a two-year term, with the exception of
the ex officio members who shall serve as long as they shall hold
their respective offices.
(d) The chairperson of this commission shall be elected by
the other members of the commission.
(e) Eight members of the commission constitute a quorum.
(f) The executive director of the governor's committee on
crime and delinquency shall serve as the executive director of
this sentencing commission.
§61-13-2. Purpose of sentencing commission.
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
(a) There is a need for fair and uniform sentencing;
(b) There is a need for research on issues regarding
sentencing in order to promote a fuller understanding of the
efficient, just and fair operation of this state's criminal
(c) There is a need for 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;
(d) There is a need to utilize the limited correctional
resources in a manner best able to fulfill the goals of criminal
punishment and protect the public.
§61-13-3. Objectives of the commission.
The sentencing commission shall pursue the following
(a) Promoting sentencing that more accurately reflects the
time that an offender will actually be incarcerated;
(b) Concentrating prison capacity on the incarceration of violent and career offenders;
(c) Reducing unwarranted disparity in sentences for offenders
who have committed similar offenses and have similar criminal
(d) Preserving meaningful judicial discretion in the
imposition of sentences and sufficient flexibility to permit
(e) Ensuring that sentencing judges in every jurisdiction in
the state are able to impose the most appropriate criminal
penalties including correctional options programs for appropriate
nonviolent offenders; and
(f) Determining whether the state needs to set out all
criminal offenses in terms of priority in order of severity and
harm to society and to provide alternatives to incarceration for
§61-13-4. Powers and duties of the commission.
The sentencing commission established pursuant to this
article has the following powers and duties:
(a) The commission shall establish general policies and
propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with article
three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code as are necessary to
carry out the purposes of this section;
(b) The commission may request such information, data and
reports from any officer or agency of the state government as the commission may from time to time require and as may be produced
consistent with other law;
(c) The commission may issue invitations requesting the
attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of any
evidence that relates directly to a matter with respect to which
the commission or any member thereof is empowered to make a
determination under this article;
(d) The commission shall establish a research and development
program within the commission for the purpose of:
(1) Serving as a clearinghouse and information center for the
collection, preparation and dissemination of information on
(2) Assisting and serving in a consulting capacity to state
courts, departments and agencies in the development, maintenance
and coordination of sound sentencing practices.
(e) The commission shall collect systematically the data
obtained from studies, research and the empirical experience of
public and private agencies concerning the sentencing processes.
(f) The commission shall publish data concerning the
(g) The commission shall collect systematically and
disseminate information concerning sentences actually imposed;
(h) The commission shall, collect systematically and
disseminate information regarding effectiveness of sentences imposed;
(i) The commission shall make recommendations to the
Legislature concerning modification or enactment of sentencing
and correctional statutes which the commission finds to be
necessary and advisable to carry out an effective, humane and
rational sentencing policy;
(j) The commission shall establish a plan and timetable to
collect and disseminate information relating to incapacitation,
recidivism, deterrence and overall effectiveness of sentences
(k) The commission shall evaluate the state's sentencing and
correctional laws and policies and make recommendations to the
governor and the Legislature on or before the first day of
January, two thousand, regarding the following issues:
(1) Whether the state should adopt guided discretion
sentencing guidelines and, if so, what type of guided discretion
sentencing guidelines should be adopted;
(2) Whether the state should retain parole as a correctional
option for all inmates or any particular category of inmates;
(3) Whether the state should determine the minimum portion of
a sentence that must be served by all inmates or any particular
category of inmates before becoming eligible for parole;
(4) Whether the state should alter the manner in which an
inmate may obtain credit for good time served or release on mandatory supervision;
(5) Whether the state needs to take action to ensure that
there is a coordinated system of correctional options to
incarceration at the state and county levels and, if so, what
action should be taken; and
(6) Any other matters relating to state and local laws and
policies governing sentencing, parole, mandatory supervision and
correctional options programs.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a sentencing
commission to promote consistency and uniformity with regard to
criminal punishment and sentencing in this state.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.