The criminal justice system is ineffective, unfair and expensive. The notions of “justice” and “rehabilitation” are virtually entirely absent from the current system. Mass incarceration, by design and effect, destroys the lives of people across our state and our nation, particularly people of color and poor people. Despite this fact, we continue to incarcerate people at an alarming rate.
The ACLU-WV is working to reform prisons, fix the broken juvenile justice system, increase opportunities for reentry and rehabilitation of those with felony convictions, increase the use of restorative justice, improve access to courts and indigent defense, end harsh criminal fines and the resulting loss of benefits and reform district attorney practices.
The ACLU of West Virginia is working hard to ensure a more just and fair criminal justice system in the Mountain State:
Bail Reform - Our legal system is built around the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. However, the reality is that thousands of people in West Virginia spend days, weeks, and months in jail without ever having been found guilty of a crime. Instead they are in jail because they can't afford to pay bail. Reforming the bail system and ending cash bail are important priorities. Download our one-pager
Civil Asset Forfeiture - Under current law, police can seize and take ownership of individual West Virginians' property without ever charging or convicting them of a crime. We are working to combine criminal prosecutions and forfeiture actions into one court proceeding and require conviction to allow for forfeiture. Additionally, under our proposed reforms, law enforcement agencies that seize the property would no longer receive the proceeds of the forfeiture, thus ending the perverse incentive to abuse the forfeiture system. Download our one-pager
War on Drugs - It is imperative that we end the war on drugs. In 2017, the West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 386, which provides for the legalization of medicinal cannabis. Now is the time we work to decriminalize cannabis and pass laws that allow for recreational use.