VADOC Launches Service Project for Inmates and Families

By Roxanne Squires

RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to further the State of Virginia’s falling recidivism rate, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is launching a new project aimed at improving services for incarcerated parents and their minor children.

The Building Family Bridges project involves a number of pre- and post-release strategies and fosters positive parent-child engagement, thus contributing to strengthen relationships and reducing recidivism.

The project is becoming a reality thanks to a recently awarded $667,829 grant issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

“The collateral damage of incarceration is significant and I am grateful we can dedicate additional resources to this challenge,” said Jessica Lee, Cognitive Programs Manager. “The Building Family Bridges grant will afford the VADOC an opportunity to enhance our family reunification services, along with direct parenting needs.”

Building Family Bridges will include two levels of facility involvement,

To start, one level will test a comprehensive, wrap around approach in at least three VADOC facilities, while the second level will provide training designed to extend to all facilities, potentially benefitting all offenders with minor children and visiting families.

“Successful reentry and strong family bonds go hand in hand. This grant gives us the opportunity to help grow and strengthen those bonds before returning citizens reenter society, thus improving our communities and reducing recidivism,” added Scott Richeson, Deputy Director of Programs, Education and Reentry. “Our staff worked hard to obtain this grant and we’re excited to put these resources to work.”

Virginia’s recidivism rate is currently 22.4 percent and holds the lowest in the country among the 45 states that produce three-year recidivism rates for felons.

Performance measure data for Building Family Bridges will be gathered from VADOC’s data management system, surveys, new data collection tools specific to the project, and/or pre/post testing and/or participant evaluations to determine progress.