West Virginia governor forms panel to study juvenile justice system, recommend changes

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has formed a new panel to study and recommend improvements to West Virginia's juvenile justice system.

The Democratic governor announced the formation of the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice on Thursday.

Task force members will work with Pew Charitable Trusts to crunch data, ensure system accountability and limit the burden on taxpayers by focusing resources on serious juvenile offenders.

Tomblin will chair the 26-member task force that will include state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis, various agency officials, judges and school principals.

West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, a stark contrast to nationwide drops. West Virginia had higher rates than the other three states with increases: Nebraska, North Dakota and Idaho.

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