Keep corrections centers in repair

There are lots and lots of ways to spend taxpayers’ money, West Virginia legislators are learning as they get their annual 60-day regular session moving. Unfortunately, making up for money not spent in the past has to be viewed as a priority.

State Division of Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen has told lawmakers more needs to be spent on maintenance at state prisons. “We have $173 million in maintenance needs and $146 million is unfunded,” she explained.

And, she added, “when you’re housing the kind of population we are, you cannot oftentimes put off any of the kinds of repairs we’re talking about.”

It is unfortunate that Jividen has an “Exhibit A” to offer legislators — the Anthony Correctional Center in Greenbrier County. It had to be closed last year because a large amount of potentially dangerous black mold was found. About 200 inmates had to be transferred to other facilities.

Problems at Anthony had their source long before Jividen became commissioner. She has to correct them, however. Needed repairs will cost as much as $14 million, he said.

Legislators should consider whether stinting on corrections facility maintenance money is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It may have been so at the Anthony Center.

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