Greenbrier House candidate Thomas Perkins discusses need for juvenile justice reform, getting rid of ‘the old ways of thinking’

By Matthew Young, RealWV

“It goes back to my experience with being in the juvenile justice system. The legislature doesn’t take juvenile justice seriously because it’s dealing with children. Kids turn 18 and their records are expunged for the most part, but there needs to be something done because we’ve got kids in the state’s custody who are being abused, and there’s no accountability.”

That’s what Republican Thomas Perkins told RealWV on Friday, regarding his decision to run for the District 46 seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Perkins is one of two Primary challengers vying to unseat current Delegate Jeff Campbell. Campbell was appointed to the position late last year after former Del. Mike Honaker resigned from the House. 

“Having the conversations and bringing awareness helps move the ball,” Perkins said. “I think there’s a lot of people who don’t even realize there’s a problem there. Just this past session, for example, the legislature voted to establish a committee that can conduct investigations into CPS.”

“Why have we not been doing that all along?” Perkins asked rhetorically. “Why is it just now happening? Simple things like that which allow for oversight, I think they open a door.”

Perkins, who in 2022 challenged for the Republican nomination in the 10th Senatorial District, said he regrets not speaking out more about this issue during that year’s campaign. 

“I guess I was ashamed of the fact that I was in the juvenile justice system when I was a kid, and I didn’t really talk a whole lot about that,” Perkins noted. “That was one of the things that kind of bothered me.”

Perkins says he was strongly considering a run for the Greenbrier County Board of Education before ultimately deciding to pursue the House of Delegates, explaining, “I wasn’t happy with the choices, so I wanted to give voters another option.”

A photographer and resident of Frankford, Perkins is the owner and operator of the Greenbrier Journal, a digital multimedia outlet. Perkins also operates Seneca Trail Media, LLC. 

Of his time as a minor in the state system, Perkins says, “I was in West Virginia’s custody, but the State of West Virginia placed me in an out-of-state facility.”

Perkins spent two years at a youth facility in Berryville, Virginia, he said. On one particular day during his time there, Perkins explained that he suffered a traumatic head injury, and was subsequently left in a restraint room for several hours without medical attention. 

“I was in there from 2001 until 2003,” Perkins said. “I think the Winchester Star wrote a piece on this – shortly after I was there, I believe a child actually died, and the school came under fire for the restraint techniques it was using.”

“This is something that happened 20-years ago, and since then I think a lot of those wrongs have been corrected,” Perkins continued. “But there’s a lot of facilities here in West Virginia that are still going unchecked.”

According to Perkins, privacy laws such as HIPAA, act as a “shield” to prevent transparency. He also believes that pharmaceutical companies should be more closely monitored in their dealings with the state’s juvenile facilities. 

“One of the first bills I would really like to get in place is just a simple bill that states if a child is in West Virginia State custody, then that child cannot be placed in an out-of-state facility,” Perkins said. “They would have to remain in state.”

At 33-years-old, Perkins is both considerably older and considerably younger than each of his two Primary opponents. Perkins is an advocate of 2nd Amendment protections, and a supporter of former President Donald Trump, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. 

“I like Matt Gaetz,” Perkins explained. “One of his ideas is that we need to get rid of the old ways of thinking. In Charleston, one person controls everything – what bills go up and what bills don’t. I almost think we should have a lottery. Throw a bunch of bills down, pop a ball up out of the machine, and that’s the bill we work on. That would save us from having one individual say what should or shouldn’t go up for a vote.”

To learn more about Thomas Perkins’ campaign for the House of Delegates, visit his website at thomasforoffice.com, or his Facebook page at Thomas Perkins. Perkins will also be appearing at The RealWV’s candidate forum at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at the Lewis Theatre in Lewisburg.

Primary Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 14. General Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.Voters must be registered independent or with a particular party to vote in that party’s primary. 

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