Governor McDonnell Congratulates Southside Virginia Community College on Receiving Bellwether Award
– SsVCC received the award for its Campus Within Walls prisoner re-entry program –
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that an innovative program begun under his prisoner re-entry initiative has been awarded a national Bellwether Award finalist trophy in the category of Planning, Governance and Finance at the Futures Assembly in Orlando, Florida. The program, called Campus Within Walls, is spearheaded by Southside Virginia Community College (SsVCC) and involves partnerships with the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Sunshine Lady Foundation and Goodwill Industries. Because of these collaborations and a Second Chance Grant from the Department of Justice, the program has operated without cost to Virginia taxpayers.
The Bellwether Awards annually recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future. The award selection process involved a critical review by a panel of national judges of hundreds of nominations from all over the country. Only 10 programs were selected and invited to the Bellwether Futures Assembly in the Planning, Governance and Finance category.
Speaking about the Campus Within Walls program at SsVCC, Governor McDonnell commented, "I want to congratulate Southside Virginia Community College, under the leadership of Dr. John Cavan, on receiving such a prestigious award for a very important program which provides offenders in our prison system with hope for a productive future. Campus Within Walls is a component of our comprehensive prisoner re-entry program. As I have long said, those who commit a crime must first repay their debt to society and take responsibility for their actions. However, it is our job to work with these offenders to prepare them for release from prison. The reality is that the vast majority of the people that we send to prison eventually get out. Therefore, in the interest of public safety and good government, prisoner re-entry strategies must be put in place. This is the responsible and cost-effective approach to 21st century corrections. We do not want individuals released from our institutions to re-offend. In an effort to further reduce recidivism in the Commonwealth, we have implemented a comprehensive re-entry initiative designed to successfully prepare those who have served their time to go back into their communities as productive members of society. Campus Within Walls works with Virginia inmates to help them receive an education credential so that they have the tools and skills they need to support themselves and get a job once they are released. This valuable program has been successfully implemented at SsVCC. Recently, 40 inmates who participated in the program at Lunenburg Correctional Center graduated. These individuals have made a significant step toward preparing to become successful members of their community upon release from prison. The Department of Corrections, with assistance from its many partners, has implemented a number of innovative re-entry programs throughout our correctional system and Campus Within Walls is an excellent example of what can be done to assist offenders prepare for their return to their neighborhoods."
Dr. John Cavan, Southside Virginia Community College President, commented, "This is just another example of Southside Virginia Community College truly living the mission of a democracy's college. The graduation of students from the Campus Within Walls and receiving the Bellwether Award symbolizes the great commitment of Governor McDonnell in creating a winning team of SsVCC, Department of Correctional Education and the Department of Corrections to forward the governor's re-entry initiative."
Campus Within Walls is an intensive inmate education program with unique features such as the housing of inmate participants together in the prison to create a "learning community," the infusion of modern technology, the use of inmate tutors, and a well defined curriculum designed to allow inmates to attain an educational credential while incarcerated. The program increases safety within the prisons by keeping inmates occupied with positive pursuits. The program also is expected to produce long-term public safety benefits. Research conducted nationally and within the Commonwealth demonstrates that certificate and degree attainment reduces recidivism and thereby increases public safety. Participants are more likely to have the skills and discipline to obtain and keep jobs, become law abiding taxpayers and support themselves and their families.
Southside Virginia Community College (SsVCC), in cooperation with the Department of Corrections (DOC), the Department of Correctional Education (DCE), and Goodwill Industries Network (Lunenburg only) has created this unique prison education program within its service region. On Friday, Jan. 27, SsVCC awarded an Associate Degree of Arts and Science, General Education Certificates, IST Certification, Comp TIA A+ Certification, and Masonry Certification to more than 40 other participants.
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