IN THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF WEST VIRGINIA
January 2000 Term
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA EX REL. STEVEN D. CANTERBURY,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WEST VIRGINIA
REGIONAL JAIL AND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AUTHORITY,
THE MINERAL COUNTY COMMISSION;
ROBERT HARMAN, JACK BOWERS and CHARLES LOGSDON,
COMMISSIONERS; and PATRICK L. NIELD, SHERIFF
OF MINERAL COUNTY,
WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Submitted: April 11, 2000
Filed: June 8, 2000
Chad M. Cardinal, Esq.
Lynn A. Nelson, Esq.
WV Regional Jail & Correctional Facility
Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney
Charleston, West Virginia
Keyser, West Virginia
Attorney for Petitioner
Attorney for Respondent
JUSTICE STARCHER delivered the Opinion of the Court.
W.Va. Code, 31-20-10  requires that all persons serving jail sentences
must serve them in a regional jail, when one is available in the region where the sentencing
county is located -- subject to an exception for holding facility confinement that is
appropriate under the standards and procedures for holding facilities. Id. Those standards
and procedures, West Virginia Code of State Regulations 95-3-36.23 , provide for no
more than 72-hour confinement in a holding facility.
Facts and Background
In the instant case, the petitioner is the West Virginia Regional Jail and
Correctional Authority (the Authority), appearing by its Executive Director, Steven D.
Canterbury. (The Authority is established by W.Va. Code, 31-20-1 et seq.) The respondents
are the Mineral County Commission and its members, and the local sheriff (collectively, the
Commission). The Authority invokes this Court's original jurisdiction and seeks a writ of
mandamus to compel the Commission to incarcerate all people sentenced in Mineral County
to serve their jail sentences in the West Virginia Regional Jail system.
The Commission owns and operates the Mineral County Detention Center,
built in 1978. In December of 1990, the Commission changed its denomination of the
Detention Center from county jail to holding facility.See footnote 1
This change coincided with the
opening of the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
According to the Commission, the Commission thereafter created and
implemented a local incarceration program, whereby certain persons who have been
convicted of crimes and given sentences of jail time could serve their jail sentences in the
Detention Center, instead of in a regional jail.
Under the Mineral County system, the process of local incarceration begins
with the filing of a Request for Local Incarceration by a convicted defendant, wherein the
Comes now, the undersigned, and Requests the Court that
pursuant to West Virginia Code 31-20-9 and 31-20-10 he/she be
allowed to serve any jail time imposed in this case in the
Mineral County Detention Center.
The Commission in its brief before this Court further explains its local
incarceration system as follows:
[T]he court system in Mineral County has developed a waiver
system whereby inmates who wish to remain at the Mineral
County Detention Center can do so. Most inmates wish to stay
in Keyser because it is close to their work and families and
many do not have the transportation available to them that
would be necessary if they were housed at the regional jail
which is 45 to 60 minutes away from Keyser.
The way the waiver system works is simple. The inmates file
with the Court a request for local incarceration. It works exactly
the same as a request for an information when a defendant
desires to waive his right to have his case presented to a grand
The request states that the inmate has been advised that the
Mineral County Center does not conform to the West Virginia
minimum standards for the construction, operation and
maintenance of jails. The inmates are also aware that at any
time during their incarceration at the Mineral County Detention
Center they have the absolute right to be transferred to a
regional jail upon request without question.
After the court receives a request for local incarceration, a
hearing is held in which the inmate executes a waiver of rights
before the court. This process is similar to the taking of a guilty
plea in which the court or defendant's counsel questions the
defendant to determine if the inmate is freely, voluntarily,
knowingly and intelligently waiving their rights to be
incarcerated in a regional jail. The waiver once again advises
them that the Mineral County Detention Center is not operated
according to standards other than a 12-hour holding facility and
that they have an absolute right to be transferred to a regional
jail at any time upon request. The waiver also lists the ways in
which the Mineral County Detention Center does not conform
to jail standards. Once the court is satisfied that the inmate has
freely, voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waived his/her
rights, it enters an order granting the request.
The whole point of the waiver system is plain and simple. It is
the inmates who are requesting to stay at the detention center.
The respondents are not forcing anyone to stay there. The
respondents readily admit that they could not legally force
anyone to stay in the detention center for more than 12 hours.
They never have and they never will.
Under the Commission's local incarceration program, the court order that
permits the inmate to serve his or her jail sentence at the Detention Center states in pertinent
. . . having Received the Defendant's Request For Local
Incarceration and Waiver of Rights, the Court does hereby Order
that the Defendant may be incarcerated at the Mineral County
Detention Center . . ..
According to the Commission, by housing persons who are serving jail
sentences -- and who are simultaneously participating in the county's Work Release,
Community Service, Litter Control, Weekend Jail, and Trustee Programs -- in the Detention
Center, the Commission can save the taxpayers of Mineral County between $200,000.00 and
$250,000.00 per year -- because Mineral County can house the inmates in the Detention
Center for $20.00 per day, as opposed to the rate of $39.50 per day charged by the Regional
The Authority does not dispute what the Commission says about the nature and
virtues of the Commission's local incarceration program. The Authority simply contends that
this program, whatever its virtues, nevertheless violates the statutory mandate that was
enacted in connection with the creation of the regional jail system, regarding where persons
sentenced to serve jail sentences must be incarcerated.
Specifically, the Authority points to W.Va. Code, 31-20-10(g) , that
(g) After a regional jail facility becomes available pursuant to
this article for the incarceration of inmates, each county within
the region shall incarcerate all persons whom the county would
have incarcerated in any jail prior to the availability of the
regional jail facility in the regional jail facility except those
whose incarceration in a local jail facility used as a local holding
facility is specified as appropriate under the standards and
procedures developed pursuant to section nine of this article and
who the sheriff or the circuit court elects to incarcerate therein.
(Emphasis added.)See footnote 2
The Authority argues that the statute clearly requires that people who are
serving jail sentences must be incarcerated in a regional jail, when one is available.
Standard of Review
Although we are in one respect reviewing sentencing-related orders of a circuit
court, under the procedural posture of this case we are exercising original jurisdiction in
mandamus. In any event, our decision turns on the de novo legal interpretation of a statute.
Our discussion can be brief -- because, despite the Commission's ingenuity and
commendable attention to procedural and substantive due process in crafting and
implementing its local incarceration system -- the statutory mandate is clear. W.Va. Code,
31-20-10  requires that all persons serving jail sentences must serve them in a regional
jail when one is available in the region where the sentencing county is located -- subject to
an exception for holding facility confinement that is appropriate under the standards and
procedures for holding facilities. Id. Those standards and procedures, West Virginia Code
of State Regulations 95-3-36.23 , provide for no more than 72-hour confinement in a
holding facility. See note 1 supra.
Applying this rule to the Commission's local incarceration program, it is clear
-- from the language of the convicted person's request that initiates the local incarceration
process, to the language of the resultant court order -- that defendants who are in the
Commission's local incarceration program are serving jail sentences that would have been
served in the county jail prior to the existence of the regional jail system. Under W.Va. Code,
31-20-10 , the Commission must incarcerate such persons in the regional jail operated
by the petitioner.See footnote 3
For the foregoing reasons, we grant the requested writ of mandamus, and
require the respondents to incarcerate all persons who are serving sentences of jail
incarceration in the appropriate regional jail facility -- except for confinement in a holding
facility for periods of time permitted by the applicable standards for such a facility.
1West Virginia Code of State Regulations 95-3-36.29 defines a jail as: A
confinement facility, usually operated by a local law enforcement agency, which holds
persons detained pending adjudication and/or persons committed after adjudication for
sentences of one year or less. 95-3-36.14 defines a detention facility as a confinement
institution to which adults may be sentenced for up to 1 year or confined pending
adjudication. 95-3-36.23 states that a Holding Facility or Lockup is a temporary
confinement facility, for which the custodial authority is less than 72 hours, where arrested
persons are held pending release, adjudication, or transfer to another facility.
2This language is mirrored generally in W.Va. Code, 31-20-9(b) :
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, any county commission providing and maintaining a
jail on the effective date of this article may not be required to
provide and maintain a jail after a regional jail becomes
available pursuant to the provisions of article twenty, chapter
thirty-one of this code, unless the county commission determines
that a facility is necessary: Provided, That the county com-
mission may provide and maintain a holding facility which
complies with the standards set forth for holding facilities in
legislative rules promulgated by the jail facilities standards
commission or its predecessor, the jail and correctional facilities
3This Court is sympathetic to and supportive of the Commission's desire to use
creative criminal sentencing methods to appropriately sanction offenders and to safely and
humanely serve local needs, local people, and local autonomy. There is no reason to believe
that the Legislature, in creating a regional jail system, intended to entirely pre-empt flexibility
and local innovation in developing and implementing criminal sanctions, and this is not the
import of our decision. For example, nothing in this opinion should be construed to prohibit
a circuit court, as part of imposing conditions of probation, from restricting a convicted
person periodically to a local holding facility for periods of time that are in accordance with
the standards for such a facility. Cf. State v. Lewis, 195 W. Va. 282, 289, 465 S.E.2d 384,
391 (1995) (circuit court may order home incarceration as a condition of probation).