Those sent by the local court system to perform community service through Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) in Arlington contributed nearly 110,000 hours worth, more than $1.08 million, over the past year, according to new figures from OAR.

“This is a restorative-justice model,” said Gail Arnall, OAR’s executive director. “Judges are giving defendants the opportunity to give back to the community instead of being locked up.”

A total of 1,733 individuals were referred to OAR over the past 12 months. The success rate for those participating was 90.3 percent.

“These clients work at various nonprofits, faith-based organizations and government agencies,” said Heather Pritchett, director of the community-service program. “Community service is a cost-saving way to hold people accountable while benefiting the community.”

At the July 13 County Board meeting, board chairman Walter Tejada praised OAR for its “terrific contributions,” and said surpassing the million-dollar mark for contributions was “unbelievable.”

Arnall told board members her goal was to double the number of individuals who received community-service time rather than jail time in Arlington over the next three or four years.
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Originally published in the “Arlington Notes” section of the Sun Gazette on July 18, 2013. Original article can be found at http://www.sungazette.net/columns/arlington-notes/article_6097c2a8-efc8-11e2-adca-0019bb2963f4.html