With almost one-third of Virginia’s prisoners returning to prison within three years of their release, Gov. Bob McDonnell wants a more coordinated state approach to discouraging repeat offenders, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Yesterday, he created the state’s first Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council to study why prisoners are going back behind bars and to find ways to promote more successful societal re-entry programs.
Keeping prisoners out of incarceration not only would save money, “it’s the right thing to do,” McDonnell said. While the state has been running re-entry programs for years, they aren’t so coordinated as they could be, he said. About 10,000 adults and 300 juveniles are released from Virginia prisons each year, McDonnell said. The governor wants the council to work more closely with the community college system, businesses, service agencies, and faith-based organizations. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he is particularly interested in programs that recognize the needs for mental-health treatment.