(The Center Square) – Legislation that would expand opportunities for restorative justice for juveniles passed both chambers of the West Virginia legislature and is headed to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk for his likely signature.
Under West Virginia’s juvenile restorative justice program, the victim of a crime meets with the juvenile offender to discuss a way in which the offender can provide retribution. The juvenile can only enter this program if the victim agrees to it. An offender who enters into this program could lead to the dismissal of all charges.
House Bill 2094 would expand this program to some violent crimes. The legislation passed both chambers of the General Assembly with unanimous support and one member absent in both. However, an earlier version to include all criminal activity failed to garner enough support.
Legislation to establish classifications in the criminal code and increase punishments for some crimes passed the House of Delegates and will be sent to the Senate. House Bill 2017 adds the option for enhancements to be added to a charge, which can cause longer sentences. The bill received criticism from the West Virginia ACLU, which said it would increase penalties for more than 200 crimes.
The bill creates six felony classes and three misdemeanor classes.