Governor McDonnell Announces $1.5 Million in New Funding for Virginia’s Comprehensive Prisoner Re-Entry Program

Includes Supplemental Grant from Verizon to Provide Mentoring for Women with Substance Abuse Issues in Southwest Virginia Will Establish Re-Entry Docket Pilot Program for Coordinated and Comprehensive Planning and Programming

RICHMOND- Governor Bob McDonnell today announced initial funding for his strengthened prisoner re-entry program currently under development.  Under the leadership of Banci Tewolde, appointed by the Governor to serve as the state’s first prisoner re-entry coordinator, the Commonwealth has secured federal funding for three components of the Governor’s comprehensive prisoner re-entry initiative.  Delegate Christopher K. Peace was appointed bu Governor McDonnell to the Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell commented, “We are working diligently to develop a comprehensive prisoner re-entry program in Virginia that utilizes the efforts of non-profit and faith-based organizations, as well as local governments, while providing support and coordination from the state level.  Ninety-five percent of all prisoners incarcerated today will eventually be released and return to communities.  An effective prisoner re-entry program can effectively reduce recidivism, improve public safety and improve integration by offenders into their communities.  Today we are announcing the first steps in securing funding for our statewide efforts and we will continue to make announcements over the months ahead as our Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council continues to meet and develop their plan.”

Virginia has been selected to receive $750,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice under the Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative.    Funding from the award will go to six areas of the state that have established local reentry councils to coordinate services for those leaving prison or jail.  These include Albemarle/Charlottesville, Culpeper, King George and Planning District 16 (Caroline County, Fredericksburg, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford), Norfolk, Richmond City and surrounding counties of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover and fourteen localities of far Southwest Virginia.  The federal grant award along with a $750,000 in-kind match of services from Virginia localities and state agencies will result in a $1.5 million reentry project for the Commonwealth.  Funding will be used to assist individuals as they transition back into the community through services such as job training, temporary housing, literacy classes, mental health and substance abuse programs, education programs and family reintegration services. 

“Our criminal justice system is in a self-perpetuating crisis,” said U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). “This funding made available for re-entry programs will help break the cycle and provide critical assistance to individuals transitioning back into our communities. At the federal level, I will continue to push for a bipartisan commission to review the nation’s criminal justice system.”

Through the Second Chance Act, Virginia received $136,692 to create the Norfolk Circuit Re-entry Docket (NCCRD) as a pilot. This project has critical state and local support necessary to foster successful reentry court, including Norfolk Sherriff Bob McCabe, Office of the Executive Secretary, Secretary of Public Safety, and wide support from local and state agencies. The Circuit of Norfolk was chosen as the pilot site for this project due to its history of innovative court projects, and existing community collaborations for reentry efforts.  The Norfolk Circuit Re-entry Docket (NCCRD) will provide coordinated and comprehensive reentry planning, supervision, substance abuse treatment, case management, and judicial oversight with the goals of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety, and increasing participation in targeted services to meet offender needs.  The NCCRD will be the first of its kind in the state of Virginia.

“This grant will enable the Norfolk Circuit Court to give recently released offenders services necessary to make a successful transition back into society," said U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-3).  “Without some form of support, nearly two-thirds of released inmates return to prison. This program will reduce crime and save money for the taxpayers.”

Speaking about funding for NCCRD, Norfolk Sherriff Robert McCabe noted, “I believe as responsible stewards of taxpayers’ dollars, it is incumbent upon all of us in local and state government, especially on the corrections side, to incarcerate those offenders who are a risk to the public. At the same time, it is responsible and cost effective to assist non violent offenders who have paid their debt to society, to re-enter with the best opportunities for success. This is both fiscally prudent but also makes sense from a penological perspective.”

Another federal grant, totaling $300,000 will target female offenders who are currently receiving drug treatment in Virginia Department of Corrections facilities who are returning to the more affected Southwest Virginia counties of Tazewell, Russell and Buchanan.  In private and public partnership, Verizon donated $10,000 to supplement the grant to be used specifically for women with history of domestic and sexual abuse.   Grant money will be used to develop community assistance for women linking them to: family, child and individual counseling; medical services; social services; job skills training and job placement services; residential treatment if need; housing; and, transportation services.  Additionally, this program will start prior to release through video-conferencing during incarceration to facilitate parenting skills and a family therapy process to prepare female offenders, their children and family member for successful reintegration upon release.  A Client Advocate position with the Community Service Board will facilitate seamless continuity between the prison-based program and access to community-based services for targeted drug abusing female offenders in the three counties.

“Verizon Wireless is proud to continue our long- standing partnership with the Virginia Governor's Office and support this innovative program that will help women and families rebuild their lives,” said Mike Maiorana, regional president, Verizon Wireless. “We are able to fund important initiatives like this, in part, due to the generosity of Commonwealth residents who have recycled their old cell phones through HopeLine, Verizon Wireless' phone recycling program focused on domestic violence prevention.”

In May the Governor issued Executive Order #11 that establishes the Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council, with the intent to promote collaborative re-entry strategies for adult and juvenile offenders.  Executive Order #11 can be found here: