August 6, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact:
Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, OAR
STATE AFFIRMS VALUE OF PRISON REENTRY PROGRAMS
On Friday, July 10, 2020, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran cited reentry programming provided by the PAPIS (Pre-release and Post Incarceration Services) Coalition across the the Commonwealth as a major reason why Virginia, for the 4th year in a row, has achieved the lowest recidivism (i.e., re-incaraceration) rate in the country.
Moran praised PAPIS and its nine member organizations in a briefing he presented to the members of the Senate of Virginia’s Committees on Judiciary and Rehabilitation and Social Services at a virtual Joint Meeting held in preparation for the General Assembly’s planned special session in August, much of which will focus on systemic racism and policing reforms.
“We’ve been a member of the Coalition since its creation more than 20 years ago,” said Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, Executive Director of OAR of Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. “It’s heartening to know that our efforts and those of the other PAPIS members are having a positive impact on the lives of individuals coming home from incarceration and on communities as a whole.”
Coalition members offering pre-release and/or post-release reentry services in the state include three other nonprofits using the OAR acronym: OAR of Richmond, OAR Jefferson Area Community Corrections (based in Charlottesville and operating across Central Virginia), and OAR NOVA, which works in Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William Counties. All four trace their origins back to the beginning of the restorative justice movement in Virginia in the early 1970s.
In addition to these organizations, the PAPIS Coalition also includes Colonial Community Corrections Transitional Services in Williamsburg; Northern Neck Regional Jail Reentry and Transition Services in Warsaw; Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester; STEP-UP, Inc. in Norfolk; and Virginia CARES, Inc. in Roanoke. Together the Coalition covers 65 percent of Virginia.
OAR of Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church typicially connects with more than 700 people each year who will be returning or have already come home to these communities after incarceration. OAR’s pre-release services include reentry workshops in local detention facilities and the nearest State prison as well as one-on-one transition planning with individual residents and their families.
OAR also welcomes people home, providing direct services for individuals (including help with food, housing, transportation, and other basic needs) at the time of release and over their initial months back in the community. The organization offers individual case management and a comprehensive job search coaching and assistance program as part of its post-release services.
Recidivism, which refers to individuals re-engaging with the criminal legal system after release from incarceration, is one measure of how that system fails People of Color in this country – especially Black and Brown people, who represent a disproportionate percentage of the prison and jail population in Virginia and nationwide.
“Virginia’s rate of 23 percent compares well with the national one-year recidivism rate of 50 percent, but it’s still too high,” said Jones Valderrama. “We’d welcome the opportunity to expand our programming both before and after people are released so that more individuals enjoy a safe reentry.”
Founded in 1974, OAR journeys with individuals of all genders who are returning to the community after incarceration, manages an alternative sentencing program for the Arlington County and City of Falls Church courts that allows others to avoid that life-altering experience, and works to achieve racial justice in the criminal legal system and society at large. The organization addresses incarceration, the legal system, and all systems “upstream” (calling out the racism that permeates these systems and seeking social justice) and “downstream” (providing services to specific individuals).
In fiscal year 2020, OAR worked with 766 individuals who were experiencing incarceration or who had recently come home to the community and their families as well as 1,285 adults and youth who performed community service under its supervision. Since last fall, OAR has hosted four intensive two-day anti-racism workshops for some 180 members of the community, including law enforcement partners, and has presented its racial justice work to over 700 people.
OAR is the only nonprofit in the DC metro area that works with specific individuals of all genders impacted by the criminal legal system and also challenges the systemic racism responsible for mass incarceration and other structural inequities in our society.
# # # # # # #
OAR of Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church is a community-based nonprofit that journeys with individuals of all genders who seek a safe reentry as they return to the community from incarceration. We also offer alternative sentencing options through community service to youth and adults, reducing incarceration and helping individuals avoid the life-altering trauma of that experience. We promote justice in the legal system and across all systems by addressing the systemic racism responsible for mass incarceration and other structural inequities in our society. We envision a safe and thriving community where all people – including those impacted by the criminal legal system – enjoy equal civil and human rights.
# # # # # # #