TAZEWELL, Va. — Changing the mindset of society toward those being released from incarceration is what Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran laid out as a goal during a stop in Tazewell June 19.
Moran spoke at a drug court graduation in Tazewell a day after taking part in a panel discussion in Abingdon on the proposed new gun law. He said Virginia currently enjoys the lowest recidivism rate in the nation.
There are currently 32,000 inmates and 68,000 people on probation in the state, according to Moran.
“Out of that 32,000, almost 13,000 return to our communities every year,” he said. “Our whole mindset has to be to allow them to come back with skills and having addressed their mental health issues, substance abuse issues and the reasons that got them in trouble in the first place. Otherwise they are going to come back to the prison system.”
Moran said the state has held the 22.4% recidivism rate for three years. He said rehabilitation beginning when someone enters the program is one of the keys. Gov. Ralph Northam emphasized what is being done by declaring May “Second Chance Month.”
“We need a program to address the issues that got them in trouble in the first place,” he added.
He thanked Hurley for advocating the expansion of the community corrections alternative program as a way to help people avoid incarceration. Hurley said the waiting list for that program is at least 150.
He congratulated Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia on what they have done in fighting the drug crisis. The secretary said the department is trying addressing addiction itself rather than getting mad and sending people to jail.
He recognized the importance of support from the entire community as a safety net. “The entirety of Southwest Virginia has rallied together to provide that safety net. He said. Moran said law enforcement had thrown the kitchen sink at the problem on the supply side.
He said it was encouraging to see people having success attacking the demand side and that was the key to solving the problem.