WV Creating Early Release Program for Inmates with Mental Health Problems

West Virginia is establishing an early release program for inmates with serious addiction or mental health issues to help reduce the prison population.

Gov. Joe Manchin and Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin plan to sign administrative orders Friday establishing the Northern Panhandle Re-Entry Court.

The court requires eligible offenders to attend outpatient treatment under the supervision of a parole officer. Participants also will receive assistance with finding jobs and housing, and staying sober.

Supervising Judge Martin J. Gaughan will select participants from Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties based on recommendations from the Division of Corrections and parole board.

Sex offenders and convicts who previously escaped or attempted to escape aren't eligible.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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