Don’t look for many convicted criminals to volunteer, out of the goodness of their hearts, to help out the criminal justice system that put them behind bars.
Still, West Virginia officials are right to be considering proposals by two companies that operate private prisons in other states. The firms want to bid on providing incarceration services for the state.
West Virginia prisons are drastically overcrowded. The state has been wrestling with solutions for several years and unless something is done about that, the federal courts will step in and order a solution, no matter how unpalatable, be found.
This has been happening in other states. In late August, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to delay an earlier court order for California to release nearly 10,000 inmates by year’s end to improve overcrowding conditions in that state’s prisons.
Privately operated prisons have helped other states in similar straits and could help alleviate the situation here.
But West Virginia’s constitution bans forcing convicts to stay in out-of-state prisons. Volunteers would have to be sought.
Corrections officials already provide incentives for good behavior by convicts. Perhaps something similar could be used to convince some non-violent offenders to allow themselves to be transferred to out-of-state prisons.