State announces funding for prisoner re-entry

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday 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.

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.

“We are working diligently to develop a comprehensive prisoner re-entry program in Virginia that utilizes the efforts of nonprofit and faith-based organizations, as well as local governments, while providing support and coordination from the state level,” McDonnell said.

“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,” McDonnell said.

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. Sen. 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.”

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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