Charleston, WV - Additional funds may soon be available for West Virginian counties to support their jails and substance abuse programs, Senate Majority Leader John Unger II (D-Berkeley) announced today. Senator Unger will introduce Senate Bill 526 Monday with that goal.
The bill reallocates the money received from an existing excise tax on transferring real property and defines how it will be spent. The funds currently collected from this tax and given to the state will be incrementally redistributed to the counties over the next five years. The bill specifies that counties use 75 percent of these funds for their regional jails and the remaining 25 percent for substance abuse treatment.
“Over 80 percent of the jailed population has a substance abuse problem that directly or indirectly led to their incarceration,” says Senator Unger. “People with alcohol or drug dependence problems can and do recover. I am proposing this bill to help these people get the treatment they need and stop the revolving door effect, when the same offenders cycle in and out of prison because they haven’t solved the problem putting them there.”
Senate Bill 526 enables county commissioners to define which substance abuse programs to fund, but it must be spent in the county in which the tax was collected. The bill will be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and then the Committee on Finance upon introduction.