National Reentry Week 2021: Nonprofit discusses the struggles of reentry for those who formerly were incarcerated
ROANOKE, Va. (WHSV) — Each year, the Department of Justice along with the National Reentry Resource Center, celebrate National Reentry Week.
The seven-day celebration highlights the hardships and needs associated with reentering communities following incarceration.
Virginia Cares is a statewide offender reentry program that is dedicated to ensuring that when people are released from incarceration from Virginia correctional facilities, they have access to the tools necessary for a successful reentry.
Members of the organization define reentry as “providing services for ex-offenders that are released from being incarcerated.”
“We provide them with the tools that they need to apply to that everyday life and give them the proper resources that they need to have. As far as substance abuse, mental health whatever it is, we want to direct them to the right resources,” case manager JoAnne Carter said. “Once they are released they go to a halfway house and we deal with the halfway house here and they are recommended by their [parol officers] to enroll in the Virginia Cares program.”
The organization has helped people returning home from incarceration since 1981 with more than 70,000 participants served.
Carter listed access to identification records, continuing drug addiction and mental health as some of the main barriers ex-offenders face upon their return.
The National Reentry Resource Center found that 72 percent of the state and federal regulations placed upon those who are convicted impact employment opportunities for ex-offenders.
Studies show employment plays a major role in a successful reentry. Participants in the program gain access to peer support services and job readiness.
“It doesn’t matter what the charge may be, we’re not here to judge we are just here to get you back on your feet. The biggest thing is to make sure that they feel comfortable coming back,” Jason Hariston, a case manager for the program, explained. “I know people personally that came home from incarceration and they didn’t have this type of help. The thing about it is, being there to let them know somebody is there to help you.”
Virginia Cares is based out of Roanoke and operates a network of sites across Virginia. When there is not a site in a specific area that someone may need assistance, VA Cares works with existing organizations to expand their reach.
Read more about Virginia Cares by clicking here.
We are excited to welcome Pittsylvania County Community Action (PCCA) back as a provider of the Virginia CARES program in Danville, Virginia, effective October 1, 2018.
Ms. Everlena Ross is the Executive Director of PCCA. The current staff for this program are:
Ms. Sonji Webb as the Program Director
Ms. Stephanie Callands as the Case Manager.
Please join the Central Staff in extending a warm welcome to the Directors and staff of this program.
“To lead a state-wide network of reentry programs that reduces recidivism, promotes public safety and provides supportive services to assist returning citizens lead successful lives.”
Case Worker Sam Coles with the TAP/VA CARES Program in Roanoke Virginia. Will be televised tomorrow, Sunday October 29th @ 9am on CW5. Led by COO Anthony West, VA Cares is a State Wide Program which assist Ex-Offenders in their Re-Entry into Society.
‘Conversations with Andre Whitehead’
Tuesday, July 2nd DMV Drive Connect will be set up at the City of Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority (2624 Salem Turnpike, Roanoke, VA 24012) to assist residents with the reinstatement of drivers licenses that have been suspended for failure to pay court fines and fees.
To raise awareness for this policy, there will be a press event on at 2:00PM. The event will include remarks from Governor Northam and other stakeholders.
If you know of any residents who have been affected or who require DMV assistance, please be sure to invite them as well. DMV Drive Connect will be on site from 9:00AM – 4:00PM.
Mr. Benjamin Lomax, a former CARES participant and member of the Virginia CARES Board, passed away from a heart attack early on the morning of June 18, 2020. Lomax, as he was known to members of the Board and staff, was on the CARES Board from January 2012 through January 2017. He was an avid supporter of sentencing and prison reform, as well as educational and social programming for returning citizens. His spirit and energy will be greatly missed.