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Pruntytown Correctional Center, located at Pruntytown near Grafton, is a minimum- and medium-custody facility for male inmates. Pruntytown Correctional Center was originally established as the Industrial School for Boys in 1891 and served as a male juvenile facility until 1983. Females were housed at the Industrial Home for Girls (now Salem Correctional Center and Jail) in Salem.

For generations of West Virginia youth, the name Pruntytown was synonymous with reform school. A court could commit a boy to Pruntytown, or parents could commit a boy whom they felt was out of their control by getting a judge or magistrate to issue an order. Boys as young as six to eight years old were once housed in the facility. In 1914, the legislature established a minimum age of 10. Originally stressing a military-style discipline, a program evolved that emphasized education, training, and farm work. By 1917, eight years of education were offered, providing a full grade-school education. Previously, the institution had offered schooling up to the fourth grade.

As racial segregation became more prevalent, the State Industrial School for Colored Boys opened at Lakin, Mason County, in 1922, and all of the Black boys from Pruntytown were moved there. The Lakin school also eased overcrowding at Pruntytown, where the population had increased to more than 400. In 1956, Pruntytown was reintegrated when Lakin closed. A forestry camp at Davis also opened, with boys from Lakin and Pruntytown.

The philosophy of youth incarceration began changing in the 1970s. In West Virginia, decisions by the Supreme Court and the legislature stopped the commitment of children who had not committed specific crimes. As a result, Pruntytown’s population declined from 250 in the 1970s to 52 boys, who were transferred to the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem when Pruntytown closed in 1983.

The facility reopened in 1985, housing minimum-custody adult male inmates whose primary work function was to renovate the center. The center was run as a co-ed facility from 1988 until 2007, when all females were transferred to the Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County.

Today, Pruntytown Correctional Center and Jail emphasizes work assignments and educational opportunities. Many of the inmates work off-grounds for other state and municipal agencies such as the Division of Highways and the city of Clarksburg.

Last Revised on September 22, 2023

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Pruntytown Correctional Center." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 September 2023. Web. 24 February 2024.


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