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The Office of the Governor of the State of West Virginia

09/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/24/2020 10:30

Gov. Justice awards combined $880,000 for Civil Legal Services grant, John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

JOHN R. JUSTICE STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM

The remaining $30,320.10 has been awarded to 11 prosecuting attorneys and public defenders across West Virginia through the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program.

These funds will assist local prosecuting attorneys and public defenders with educational debt and increase the retention rates of qualified individuals in these fields throughout West Virginia.

The funds have been evenly distributed to the following individuals:

Barbour County
-Rutheana Mills

Fayette County
-James A. Adkins

Kanawha County
-Katherine Kessell

Marion County
-Michelle L. Minutelli

Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel counties
-Jamie O. Crestfield
-Robert J. Lowe

Putnam County
-Paige W. Hoffman
-Jennifer Dawn Scragg Karr
-Kristina D. Raynes

Raleigh County
-Dominick Cangemi

Wayne County
-Valarie Maynard

The most consistently cited reason why attorneys decline or leave positions as prosecutors and public defenders is student loan debt. The majority of law students must borrow to finance their education and the rising costs are continuing to impose insurmountable debt. To extend the problem, public defender and prosecutor salaries are failing to keep pace with the escalating cost of education. As a result, talented lawyers are often unwilling to accept or remain in attorney positions as prosecutors or public defenders, creating real challenges for those offices in their quest to hire and retain capable attorneys.

These funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs and are administered by the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice and Community Services (JCS).