ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — According to the U.S. Department of Corrections data, for the fourth consecutive year, the state of Virginia has the lowest recidivism rate in the country.
Many jurisdictions in northern Virginia said that while they don’t track their own recidivism rates, they’ve seen great success in their resource and job fairs. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Department’s resource fair is voluntary and open to inmates about twice a year to make connections with housing and job opportunities before they’re released.
“Sometimes that’s all people need, just a break in life or just meet somebody who can help them turn it around and that’s my goal,” said Sheriff Dana Lawhorne.
According to the department of corrections, the state’s recidivism rate of 23.4 percent is down from last year and is tied with South Carolina’s. The data is based on 42 states that report three-year recidivism rates, meaning the number of offenders re-incarcerated within three years of their release from prison.
A former Alexandria Adult Corrections inmate Patricia Gomez returned to the jail for Thursday’s resource fair; this time as a member of Together We Bake. “We are a nonprofit work training program and we help women in need, giving them a second chance; whether they’ve been incarcerated, homeless, without work, or are new to our country,” Gomez said. “At the end of the program, they get a ServSafe certificate.”
Gomez was released from prison in 2016 and says she found Together We Bake almost immediately afterward, thanks to resources and connections she made while in incarcerated. “It’s amazing to give [the inmates] hope and let them know that their dreams can come true. Don’t give up. Keep pushing forward,” Gomez said.