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McDonnell forms new council to examine Virginia prisoner reentry

Rosalind Helderman

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is putting a new emphasis on creating a comprehensive strategy for helping prisoners successfully reenter society after completing their sentences. McDonnell was joined by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, legislators and a variety of public safety, social services, corrections officials as he announced the initiative, designed to help Virginia attack a recividism rate that now stands at 29 percent.

McDonnell signed an executive order establishing a Prisoner Reentry Council, headed by Decker and the state's first prisoner reentry coordinator Banci Tewolde. Membership will also include representatives of 16 government agencies. The group has been asked to come up with a blueprint for its work on July 1 and a new strategy by Dec. 31.

McDonnell said the goal will be for every Virginia inmate to get a comprehensive plan for his or her return to society, with a goal of helping inmates work through the "golden windows" of 90 days and one year after exiting prison--a window when many former inmates either begin a transition to a new life or give up and return to crime. He described helping former prisoners as a third leg in successful crime prevention, along with the elimination of parole and longer sentences for some crimes.

"Prisoner reentry is about law enforcment," McDonnell said. "If you can save a new victim, and you can save somebody from coming back into our already overcrowded jails, it's good for government."

"We do believe in redemption and second chances," Cuccinelli said. "We want to set up a system that makes those second chances more likely to succeed."

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By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 11, 2010; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli, Prison, Virginia  
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