Dozens of probation officers who keep tabs on W.Va. sex offender - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Dozens of probation officers who keep tabs on W.Va. sex offenders to lose jobs

Posted:

BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) Thirty-nine people responsible for keeping tabs on the more than 650 sex offenders living in West Virginia will soon be out of a job, according an order signed on June 26, by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Allen Loughry.

The order effectively eliminates the Intensive Supervision Office (ISO) for Sex Offenders started by Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis as part of the Child Protection Act of 2006.

According to the court's website, the program is comprised of 39 men and women whose only duty is to supervise offenders convicted of sex crimes and serious child abuse offenses. "These officers work out of their vehicles, not offices," the website said. 

The website's description of the program continued "in addition to standard work hours, they work holidays, nights, weekends, and hours in between, to make sure offenders are complying with the terms and conditions of their court orders. Extended supervision for these offenders also includes polygraph examinations and electronic monitoring."

Chief Justice Loughry based the decision on a decline in the total number of people supervised by probation officers from 14,000 to 10,000 people following the implementation of several specialized probation programs, including drug court "with officers limited to oversight over those participants no matter how few those participants may be." 

The court also listed the ISO's multi-jurisdictional role as a challenge for current officers. "By virtue of their regional rather than local responsibilities, the ISO officers face geographic and logistical obstacles to providing the fullest and most robust supervision of sex offenders possible."

To accommodate areas with an increased caseload, the order said eight new probation officers will be added that will report directly to probationary office in the circuit in which they serve. They include: 

Fourth Circuit-- One
Fifth Circuit-- One
Eighth Circuit-- One
Twenty-second Circuit-- Two
Twenty-fourth Circuit -- One
Twenty-fifth Circuit-- Two

Currently, there are 288 active probation officers in the state, according to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals spokesperson. 

When the order takes effect in September, it orders the probation offices of each circuit to supervise the individuals at no less than the same level of supervision:  

"In no instance may any Circuit Court or Probation Office reduce the level of supervision applied to any sex offender except in accord with the attached Levels of Supervision for Sex Offenders." 

According to the West Virginia State Police Registry, there are currently 4,413 sex offenders residing in the state. However, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Supreme Court said the ISO officers are only responsible for monitoring 650 of these individuals.

**** There are six ISU supervision regions in West Virginia covering all fifty-five counties. Each region has a lead officer who acts as the local ISU supervisor for that area. Click here for printer-friendly pdf version of the map. (From the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals website)

Powered by Frankly