Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 23, 2013

W.Va. to begin relocating juvenile offenders to Mercer County facility

PRINCETON — State corrections officials plan to begin moving juvenile offenders out of the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center in Harrison in County this week.

Sixteen juvenile sex offenders will be moved to the Sam Perdue Juvenile Center in Bluefield. Six others who have behavioral or mental issues are being transferred to the James. H. “Tiger” Morton Juvenile Center in Kanawha County, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina said.

“We hope to complete the final transfers over the course of the upcoming week,” Messina told The Exponent Telegram. “Everything should be in place before Sept. 30.”

In July, Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn ordered the state to relocate the center or its residents by Sept. 30. He earlier had condemned conditions at the former Industrial Home for Youth in Salem, where the center is located.

State officials closed the high-security Industrial Home for Youth and converted it into a minimum-to-medium security men’s prison. Adult inmates will be moved into the facility after the juveniles leave.

“I would imagine the first group moving in the second week to middle or so of October,” Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told the newspaper. “They would be coming from other correctional facilities within the state.”

He said that the state eventually plans to house up to 400 inmates at the prison, Rubenstein said.

He said the adult inmates are eligible to do public works projects and are not a danger to the community.

“There are a number of inmates from the Pruntytown Correctional Center who work on some of the Harrison County Division of Highways crews,” Rubenstein said.

“Once we get everything up and running, it will be closer for them to get a crew from Salem than from Pruntytown,” he added. “We will be a good neighbor.”

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