HB 767 Parole; community-based programs

This is the bill we have been working so hard to see passed.  Your attendance and support is desperately needed!!!!!  The press release and figure are below the notice and text as well as attached.
(For more information, contact us.)

House of Delegates
Patron Notification
Subcommittee Notification

Chairman Glenn M. Weatherholtz of the House Subcommittee on/for Public Safety of the House Committee on/for Militia Police and Public Safety advises you that a meeting of the Subcommittee will be held on 01/30/2002 at 07:00 AM in 7th Floor West Conference Room . Please Note: Subcommittee Members: Delegate Weatherholtz (Chair), Delegate Ware, Delegate Bloxom, Delegate Carrico, Delegate Barlow, Delegate Pollard The following bill(s) will probably be considered:

Delegate Name
Bill(s) to be considered at this meeting

Ward Armstrong                       HB708, HB711, HB704
Rob Bell                                      HB543
Kathy Byron                               HB566
Thelma Drake                            HB506, HB505
Robert Hurt                                HB1179
Bill Janis                                     HB435
Chris Jones                                HB1199
Scott Lingamfelter                    HB399
Bob McDonnell                         HB308
Ken Melvin                                  HB1057, HB1056
Brian Moran                               HB596
Bob Tata                                     HJ121
Vivian Watts                               HB767
Glenn Weatherholtz                 HB403, HB405
Jim Scott                                     HB1225
Bob Purkey                                HB1288
Morgan Griffith                          HB1301

Your attendance is requested. Respectfully,

Dawn Smith

HB 767 Parole; community-based programs.
Patron - Vivian E. Watts  (all patrons)    .....    notes
Summary as introduced:
Parole; community-based programs. Requires the Department of Corrections to give nonviolent prisoners the opportunity to participate in residential community programs, work release, or community-based programs approved by the Secretary of Public Safety within six months of such prisoner's projected or mandatory release date.

Full text:
01/09/02 House: Presented & ordered printed, prefiled
01/09/02 024188980

01/09/02 House: Presented & ordered printed, prefiled
01/09/02 024188980
01/09/02 House: Referred to Committee on Militia,
Police and Public Safety
01/18/02 House: Assigned to M., P. & P. S.
sub-committee: 2
General Assembly Home | Bills and Resolutions

Press Release

In 2001, the Virginia Department of Corrections released approximately 10,300 men and women back into our communities, many without supervision or the benefit of reentry programs and employment opportunities.  In fact, the VDOC only contracted for 213 beds in transitional residential centers during 2001.  And, only an average of 180 of these beds were used per day, most being used by the Parole Board as a condition of parole or by Probation & Parole as an intermediate sanction.  Therefore, it is no wonder that many ex-offenders are prone to recommit offenses against our society.

With the majority of the state's prisoners (over 9,000 yearly) being released without an opportunity to establish employment, obtain necessary identification and to seek out housing, public safety must be considered at risk.  After all, with the enthusiastic 'War on Crime', this country has incarcerated a record-breaking number of its citizens.  These individuals are afforded, at most, $25 and bus ticket upon their release.  That $25 will barely cover the cost of obtaining a state identification or driver's license, a necessary tool in order to become employed, and $25 certainly will not secure lodging for someone without family or community assistance.

Without an adequate safety net of reentry programs, work release centers and halfway houses, should the state be obligated to fund housing for ex-offenders in order to insure public safety? Should the citizens of Virginia be forced to pay even more to assist offender reintegration? Should the state's overwhelming budget concerns conflict with need to reduce the likelihood of recidivism? No.  In reality, it costs substantially less to place prisoners in a transitional residential center or halfway house for the latter portion of their sentence than it does to keep them in a prison facility.

For many years, the federal prison system has used a very cost effective step down approach for offender reentry.  The federal Bureau of Prisons places most offenders into community correction programs for a period of 30 days to six months prior to the full expiration of their sentence.  This insures that the prisoner is able to obtain necessary identification and employment tools, obtain and maintain employment and seek permanent housing, while still under the control and supervision of the Bureau of Prisons.  The prisoners are charged a percentage of their income for room and board, and, in most cases, the prisoner is obligated to build a savings and increase their family ties.  All participants in the federal program are required to be actively employed.

On 6 December 2001, Delegate Vivian E. Watts of Annandale, Virginia, submitted a bill draft to the General Assembly, which would require the Virginia Department of Corrections to mirror its federal counterparts by making transitional reentry programs available to all nonviolent offenders incarcerated in the Virginia system.  If passed, this piece of legislation (HB 767) would require that the VDOC offer such programs to approximately 7,000 inmates per year for an average of 90 days per person.  Since it costs approximately $55 a day to house an individual in a prison facility and only $34 a day or less to house them in transitional residential centers, the state (and the tax payer) would save well over $14 million dollars annually.

Many officials have argued that the bed space is not available for these programs.  However, with the federal funding allocated for such reentry programs and the overwhelming support from faith-based and community initiatives already in existence, many transitional programs are simply waiting for participants.  Hopefully, with the assistance of smart legislation, such as Del. Watts' bill, these programs will have all the participants they can accommodate, and public safety will be reinforced through the use of sensibly managed reentry.

Transitional Residential Centers 2001

Cost of Transitional Beds
64,596 bed days used at $34.00 per day $2,196,264.00
Minus money collected for room and board     $111,735.00 *
Total Cost $2,084,529.00

* This figure could be increased by requiring a higher percentage of residents' income.

Cost of Prison Beds
Same 64,596 bed days at $55.00 per day ** $3,552,780.00

** This figure ($20,075.00 annually) is conservatively based on a statewide average taken from the 2000 Virginian-Pilot report, "High Cost of Hard  Time".  The annual figure used by the Dept. of Corrections in 1999 was $18,666.00 annually or approximately $51.00 per day.

Overall Savings
Estimated cost of 64,596 bed days for 2001 $3,522,780.00
Minus 64,596 transitonal bed days for 2001 $2,084,329.00
Savings in 2001 by utilizing residential centers $1,468,451.00

Projected Future Savings
Prison bed days at $55.00 per day $34,650,000.00
Minus transitional beds at $32.27 per day *** $20,330,100.00
Estimated Yearly Savings ++ $14,319,900.00

*** This figure is based on the on the annual contract rate minus money received from
++ The savings figures are based on 630,000 bed days.  The bed days are calculated using 7,000 prisoners (70% of the estimated 10,000 prisoners released each year) times an average 90 bed days (three month stay in a residential center).

Notes: 1)  Except as otherwise noted, the above figures were obtained from the Virginia Dept. of Corrections' web site.
2)  The Virginia Dept. of Corrections' web site reports 778,666 bed days being funded annually.  Yet, the same figures indicate 64,596 bed days used in FY01, 64,438 bed days used in FY00, and 88,341 bed days used in FY99.
3)  Even though prison populations and prisoner releases have increased since 1999, the total number of bed days used in residential centers has decreased by 23,745 bed days between 1999 and 2001.

Prepared for Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees by Virginia CURE, January 3, 2002.

                        Keith Wm. DeBlasio, Director

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