Virginia Department of Corrections Early Release Program Leads to Increase in Male Residential Population
In July and August, the Virginia Department of Corrections began releasing incarcerated individuals in response to new legislation aimed at shortening sentence terms, and Gemeinschaft Home has experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment during this period.
The increase follows what had been an overall decrease in enrollment at Gemeinschaft Home, since 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, when the VADOC temporarily froze (or greatly reduced the number of) referrals to all CRP programs.
However, also in 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill granting the early release of certain (nonviolent) individuals, under a new earned credit program.
The new law would enable thousands of inmates to reduce their overall sentence by up to a third, for good behavior and participation in counseling and educational programs.
Roughly 1,400 inmates qualified for immediate release, but official enactment of the law was delayed until 2022.
In recent years, Gemeinschaft Home has provided 28 bed spaces for men participating in the CRP program, with 10 additional beds available for male participants referred through other community partners such as the Rockingham County Court Services Unit.
Yet, the facilities can accommodate a larger number of individuals, based on the size of the men’s home, its layout, and number of bedroom and bathroom facilities.
Therefore, Gemeinschaft Home has agreed to offer 12 more bed spaces for VADOC-referred participants, at least through the fall months and increased the number of beds paces (now at 49) in the men’s home to continue accommodating individuals through community-based referrals.
It is unclear how long the increased demand for enrollment will continue, but with 14,000 individuals currently eligible for a reduced sentence, the number of those exiting incarceration will likely be higher for months or even years to come. However, Gemeinschaft Home remains committed to providing support services to as many individuals re-entering the community as possible.
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