By Roxanne Squires
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is set to receive a 2019 Excellence in Government Award for the recognition of two public-private partnerships that share a similar goal of training offenders to successfully reenter society.
VADOC is one of seven honorees the Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs announced on Feb. 21, 2019.
In the Green Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) program at Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, students learn technical skills in a cutting-edge classroom and an energy conservation lab built with assistance from industry leader Johnson Controls.
This effort puts students together with industry experts and keeps them informed of new developments in the ever-changing HVAC industry while also allowing them to earn certifications and credentials necessary for future employment.
The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation works with VADOC at the State Farm Work Center providing care for retired thoroughbreds to prepare offenders for careers in the equine industry.
Skills include daily management of and hands on care for horses, feeding and nutrition, health assessments, facility maintenance and management. Offenders can also learn skills to prepare them for careers in farrier science.
Director of VADOC, Harold Clarke, said that the spirit of citizenship and tremendous generosity exhibited by their community partners Johnson Controls and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation benefit all Virginians — helping former offenders to succeed and therefore gaining long-lasting public safety throughout communities.
Since its inception in 2007, approximately 100 men have completed the program and numerous horses have found adoptive homes. The James River Chapter of TRF raises approximately $100,000 each year to provide the Groom Elite program education for the offender participants and care for the horses.
Virginia currently holds the lowest recidivism rate in the nation at 23.4 percent.
For those completing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in the Virginia prison system, the rate is even lower, at 12.3 percent.
Award recipients will be honored at a luncheon on April 11, 2019 in Richmond.