RD543 - Status Report on Offender Transitional and Re-entry Services – November 2020

Executive Summary:

This report details the efforts made by the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) and many other executive agencies to ensure that the transition of offenders from incarceration to the community is as smooth as possible. This report is produced per Item 391, Paragraph B, from Chapter 1289 of the 2020 Acts of Assembly:

B. The secretary shall continue to work with other secretaries to (i) develop services intended to improve the re-entry of offenders from prisons and jails to general society and (ii) enhance the coordination of service delivery to those offenders by all state agencies. The secretary shall provide a status report on actions taken to improve offender transitional and reentry services, as provided in § 2.2-221.1, Code of Virginia, including improvements to the preparation and provision for employment, treatment, and housing opportunities for those being released from incarceration. The report shall be provided to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees no later than November 15 of each year.

In the spirit of collaboration and combining resources, the Commonwealth is able to provide services to offenders from the time of their arrest to their release into the community by consistently approaching re-entry needs. The state agencies involved in the 2020 Re-entry Report evaluated their various programs, services and collaborative efforts during FY2020. Through their evaluation, agencies reported the assets of their programs and any barriers. Overall, barriers reported include issues with funding, participation, and access.

A number of pre and post release strategies were implemented throughout FY2020. Pre-release services were focused on mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, employment training, life skills, and education. Post-release services included assistance in acquiring clothing, food, housing, transportation, identification, health care, and employment. These services aim to facilitate an offender’s seamless re-integration into the Commonwealth.

The funding and policy barriers reported should be addressed in order to continue the facilitation of seamless re-entry services. Through evidence-based research, successful programs should be identified and replicated throughout the Commonwealth. An increase in accurate data collection is imperative to assist Virginia in its program evaluation techniques and fidelity measurements of statewide initiatives. This will ensure available funds are targeted toward effective programs and re-entry needs.