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Jail Explores Inmates' Return

It's why the Richmond City Jail is conducting research and brainstorming to determine what can be done to ensure that ex-cons find housing, jobs and transportation — and anything else they need to jump-start a new life.

The current trends in recidivism are alarming, Anderson says. Two-thirds of released inmates, or almost 14,700, will be rearrested within three years; and more than one-third will return to jail, having committed new crimes or parole violations.

"If we could reduce recidivism rates by only 10 percent," Anderson says, "Richmond would save over $2.8 million a year in jail costs alone."

But more than money is saved, he stresses, when inmates "reintegrate" into their community as opposed to "re-enter" it.

Each day more than 50 men and women are released from the Richmond City Jail. A majority return to old neighborhoods with unresolved problems such as mental health issues, substance abuse, unemployment and lack of education.

"If, as a community, we recognize the importance of re-entry and take an active role in shaping how it happens in Richmond," Anderson says, "we reap both fiscal and social benefits."

This spring and summer, the Richmond Sheriff's Office plans to examine and implement effective interventions for curbing recidivism. Just what that entails, exactly, is up for discussion. A summit of regional law-enforcement administrators is scheduled for July, Anderson says. — Brandon Walters

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