By Brandon Jarvis
Governor Northam today announced that the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the National Parole Resource Center (NPRC) selected Virginia—along with Pennsylvania and New Jersey—to participate in a nine-month learning collaborative on paroling authorities as key partners in achieving sound criminal justice policy goals and practices.
“Sound decision making and strong partnerships are among the most important strategies to ensuring sustained positive outcomes for Virginia’s parole and criminal justice systems,” said Governor Northam. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with our federal partners and other states to learn about how the Commonwealth can continue to apply best practices in parole policy, enhance collaboration among all stakeholders, and keep providing Virginians who have served their time an opportunity reenter society as productive citizens.”
Virginia’s project team will be led by Brian J. Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and includes Adrianne L. Bennett, Chair of the Virginia Parole Board; Linda L. Bryant, Parole Board Member; Harold Clarke, Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections; Mark Sickles, Virginia State Delegate; and Dr. Larry Terry, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
“Virginia has maintained the lowest recidivism rate in the nation for three years in a row, largely because of our ability to recognize and adapt to emerging challenges and complexities within our criminal justice system,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “We must remain proactive and continue to implement best practices that will enhance public safety and improve outcomes for the individuals we serve.”
Paroling authorities play a critical role in enhancing public safety and improving outcomes for individuals reentering the community by applying appropriate release conditions, providing appropriate levels of supervision, and assisting with home plans and other supportive factors that are critical to successful reentry. This learning collaborative will allow Virginia to identify best practices and strategies to strengthen collaboration between public safety and criminal justice stakeholders through workshops, stakeholder engagement, technical assistance from the NGA.
“We are honored for this opportunity, an opportunity that comes at a critical moment for Virginia’s correctional and parole systems,” said Adrianne Bennett, Chairperson of Virginia’s Parole Board. “As Virginia’s prison population continues to age and prison health care costs continue to surge, we must ensure those who are granted parole, who will often have complex needs after serving decades in prison, are able to rejoin their communities, be productive in those communities, and provide positive contributions to those communities so that we can ensure public safety first and foremost at all times. We look forward to learning from and working the NGA and the two other selected states.”