The Center for Advancing Opportunity Awards West Virginia State University $440,000 Grant to Study Recidivism Rates

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
April 3, 2019
The Center for Advancing Opportunity Awards West Virginia State University
$440,000 Grant to Study Recidivism Rates
INSTITUE, W.Va. -- The Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) has awarded West Virginia State University (WVSU) a grant of $440,000 to explore the relationship between current evidence-based programs that have been implemented in West Virginia correctional institutions for substance abuse and recidivism rates.

The goal of the Viable Impact on Recidivism Assessing Levels of Evidence Based Practices-West Virginia (VIRALE-WV) is to build an evidence-based, substance abuse treatment model for reducing recidivism rates in West Virginia.

“We are honored that the Center for Advancing Opportunity has awarded West Virginia State University this grant to study this critical issue facing our state,” said WVSU President Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins. “Our faculty who will lead this research project are experts in their fields, and will identify the specific interventions that have been the most impactful in reducing recidivism in West Virginia.”

VIRALE-WV will be led by WVSU faculty members: Professor Leighann Davidson, chair of the Criminal Justice Department; Dr. Frehot Hailou, associate professor of economics; Dr. Kerri Steeleassistant professor of social work, and; Dr. Walter Stroupe, professor of criminal justice. A post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student and four undergraduates will support the research project.

“I am glad to support four West Virginia State University professors in their effort to identify barriers and solutions to criminal justice reform,” said Gerard Robinson, executive director of the CAO. “As an HBCU with a proud history in advancing opportunities throughout the Mountain State, VIRALE-WV will be a great asset to the current work on campus at WVSU, and to the national conversation about criminal justice reform.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2016, West Virginia had 6,267 arrests for drug abuse violations. As the number of arrests for drug offenses has increased in the state, so has the number of incarcerations. In 2017, West Virginia Division of Corrections housed an average of 7,042 inmates on any given day.

In the early 2000’s, the Division of Corrections introduced evidence-based treatment programs and methodologies to reduce recidivism and prison over-crowding. VIRALE-WV at WVSU will collaborate with criminal justice agencies and community partners to establish best quality practices of the current substance abuse evidence-based programs. The Division of Corrections currently utilizes five evidence-based programs and strategies for individuals with substance abuse issue.

The research project is projected to be completed in 24 months.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Center for Advancing Opportunity is a research and education initiative created by a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. CAO supports faculty and students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other postsecondary institutions to develop research-based solutions to the most challenging issues in education, criminal justice, and entrepreneurship. For more information about the Center for Advancing Opportunity, visit

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @WVStateU.

West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
- WVSU -
Scroll to Top