West Virginia

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Youth asks West Virginia to reform prisons, for children's sake

Jasmine talking to Channel 13

Jasmine Murphy, sophmore at Logan High School, speaking up for prison reform 

Editor's note: Not long after Jasmine addressed the legislature, SB 379—the state's prison overcrowding billwas passed. It gives judges the authority to grant early releases to nonviolent offenders, categorizes offenders in terms of risks vs. needs and treating them appropriately, and addresses technical parole violations that shorten time spent back in prison.

“I want to share with you a little bit about my life because I hope that maybe if I speak up, people who make the decisions that affect so many people’s lives will listen.”

The Growing Problems of the Prison System

Putting prison overcrowding in perspective:

According to the Bureau for Justice Statistics, the number of adult federal and state prison inmates increased from 139 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 502 per 100,000 in 2009 — an increase of 261 percent. Over two million Americans are now incarcerated in prisons or jails and the total number of Americans under some form of penal supervision (including jail, prison, parole and probation) is over 7.2 million.

Stemming the tide: the racial and economic impacts of West Virginia's prison system

Stemming the Tide Cover

Photo © Cico

Despite little growth in either its population or crime rate, West Virginia has seen a marked increase in the number of people housed in its corrections facilities. As the state's prisons become overcrowded, West Virginia is facing a corrections crisis that not only impacts the state's budget but also the low-income and minority communities that are disproportionately impacted by drug addiction and substance abuse issues that land them in prison instead of treatment programs.

Legacy of inequality: Racial and economic disparities in West Virginia

Legacy of Inequality Cover

Cover photo credits: Tony Clark, Jane Dillard, Edna Green, James Hagwood, Joan Hairston, Ben Shahn

The report, “Legacy of Inequality: Racial and Economic Disparities in West Virginia” includes a sobering analysis of Census and other data conducted by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, the Partnership of African-American Churches and the American Friends Service Committee.

AFSC South Star Spring Newsletter

The South Star newsletter for AFSC's South Region.

Upper Big Branch families plead for Congressional action on mine safety

Carrying enlarged photographs of their lost loved ones, family members of three of the 29 miners killed in the 2010 explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine spent June 6-7 in Washington, D.C., pleading with lawmakers to take action to improve mine safety and to stiffen penalties for mining companies that knowingly, willingly, and recklessly place miners’ lives at risk.

Good News from West Virginia

Dear Friend,

AFSC is excited about our role and Tuesday’s announcement of the record federal settlement in the wake of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, which killed 29 West Virginia coal miners in April 2010.

Read more about AFSC's response to the settlement.

Settlement in Mine Explosion is a Step in the Right Direction

On December 6, US Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that the federal government and Alpha Natural Resources have reached a settlement in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, including $210 million in fines and required safety improvements.

Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

Beth Spence, Program Coordinator of the West Virginia Economic Justice Program, presents about her involvement in an investigative report of the Upper Branch Mine disaster.

AFSC Plays Major Role in West Virginia Mine Disaster Report

Editor's note: The report is available online.
Download the report (PDF, 5 MB)

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