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States of Incarceration is created by over 800 people in 18 states, and growing. We explore the roots of mass incarceration in our own communities—to open national dialogue on what should happen next.
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state:
West Virginia
Local history:
A Place for Women: Rising Incarceration Numbers Outpace Resources
How Has the Mass Incarceration of Women Changed West Virginia?
West Virginia University | West Virginia Criminal Justice Listening Project
Exhibiting Partner:
Downtown Library of West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506
October 5, 2020December 18, 2020

States of Incarceration in WV

Reed College of Media at West Virginia University will be highlighting stories of incarceration across the state in their installation of SOI this fall.

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West Virginia: A Place for Women: Rising Incarceration Numbers Outpace Resources
How Has the Mass Incarceration of Women Changed West Virginia?
West Virginia University | West Virginia Criminal Justice Listening Project

In 1989, 80 women were sentenced to prison in West Virginia. At that time, women served their time at Pruntytown Correctional Center in Taylor County. The facility was a men’s prison where quarters were adapted for the small number of West Virginia women with felony convictions. By 2003, 14 years later, the state had spent $24.5 million to open Lakin Correctional Center, a maximum security prison with 302 beds, to deal with the rapidly growing number of women serving prison sentences in the state.

Three years later, in 2006, the state spent another $6.2 million to expand the facility to 462 beds. In 2016, 622 women were sentenced to prison, an increase of more than 677% from 1989. Though Lakin expanded to 584 beds in 2019, it was not large enough to hold the 771 women serving time. More than a quarter of those women were incarcerated at regional jails without access to trade skills development and some rehabilitation programs. Less than half the women at Lakin have a high school diploma; a majority are mothers, and 104 have given birth there since 2006.

Our Point of View

We are undergraduate and graduate journalism students, some from West Virginia, and some from other states. When we began a study of the rise of the mass incarceration of women in West Virginia, many of us had been covering stories on some of the state’s other big issues - the opioid crisis and the child welfare crisis. Over the course of a year and a half of interviewing formerly incarcerated women, we began to see the interrelation of all of these issues. We wanted to share women’s stories because we realized that the policies that led to mass incarceration affected every part of the state’s communities and every one of its people.

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West Virginia: A Place for Women: Rising Incarceration Numbers Outpace Resources    West Virginia University
How Has the Mass Incarceration of Women Changed West Virginia?
West Virginia: A Place for Women: Rising Incarceration Numbers Outpace Resources
How Has the Mass Incarceration of Women Changed West Virginia?
  West Virginia University

National Exhibition Venue    Downtown Library of West Virginia University

Public Dialogues and Events
| October 5 – December 18, 2020

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