Working their way back in
It has been a year in the making, but the Louisa County Re-entry Program is ready to begin accepting applications for mentors into the Louisa County pilot program.
The organization has organized with the concept of helping those who are returning from prison to acclimate themselves back into society.
According to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, 95 percent of all prisoners incarcerated today will eventually be released and will return to their communities.
McDonnell said an effective prisoner re-entry program can effectively reduce recidivism, improve public safety and improve integration by offenders into their communities. He is interested in every locality starting a re-entry program.
Since August of 2012, Lisa Rengers, Department of Human Services Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) coordinator has worked diligently to get Louisa’s program off the ground. The goal is to help returning citizens become productive members of society when they “re-enter” from incarceration.
The pedestal of the program came from a success story from one of Rengers VIEW clients.
Ms. C. served three years at a women’s prison for a felony kidnapping to do bodily harm conviction.
Upon seeing her friends beat a young man in retaliation for a drug deal gone wrong, she drove the person to the emergency room where she was subsequently arrested.
Ms. C. had children when she went into prison. In fact, one child had not been born yet. During those three years, her children did not see her and upon her release from prison, her youngest child did not know her at all and the other children were angry with her for “abandoning” them.
After working with Rengers, receiving support from her father and his church to keep her moving forward to a better life. In the VIEW program, Rengers clients are required to perform 35 hours per week of volunteer service if they do not have employment within 30 days. Ms. C. volunteered at the Louisa County Food Bank and as Renger said, “Got her back in the rhythm of life.” Over time, she was able to obtain full-time employment, got her driver’s license back and received counseling for herself and her children.
To read the entire story, see the Sept. 26 edition of The Central Virginian.