The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 19, 2013


— Last week, officials announced plans to convert the Salem Industrial Home, a juvenile facility in Harrison County, into an adult prison.

Given the need to alleviate overcrowding in regional jails, the announcement is well timed.

And a good idea.

Using an existing, yet under-utilized facility, for a pressing need is practicing prudent government, especially in tight economic times.

Under a plan revealed Friday, the 49 juveniles now in Salem’s main building would move to other state facilities.

Officials want to transfer at least 300 minimum- to medium-security inmates who have been sentenced to prison, but are serving their sentences in regional jails, to Salem.

It could happen as soon as July, with a few needed upgrades.

While the conversion of Salem doesn’t completely resolve all issues in prison overcrowding, it is certainly a workable solution for now.

Additionally, the Division of Juvenile Services has been under fire and asked to close Salem following several lawsuits that claimed the facility was not an acceptable place to house youth offenders.

But rather than closing it, it will be improved and used in a more essential way — which will also save jobs in the Salem community, assuming its current staff completes additional required training.

A win-win situation.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.

This one certainly appears to be one that makes a lot of sense.