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8/8/2012 - Group seeks to ease transition of former inmates - Click here to print this information

By Connie Morrison

Every year, inmates are released in from prison, and have to assimilate back into their local communities. How do inmates go about re-building lives after they are released? One way is to tap into the services of the many government agencies or non-profit organizations on the Eastern Shore.

One recent Tuesday morning, the conference room at the Accomack County Social Services building was packed with individuals representing those groups. From Social Services, to Veterans Affairs, to church and homeless groups, each was there because he or she has a role to play in helping former inmates re-enter the community in a way that is supportive and constructive. The group is called the Eastern Shore Re-Entry Council.

The Council needs volunteers for mentoring and other forms of assistance to this population so that they do not end up back in prison. Training is provided.

Why should you care? Over 37,000 people are incarcerated in Virginia Department of Corrections prisons and in local jails. Every year, about one-third of those complete their sentences and are released back into their home communities. Virginia's Eastern Shore expects more than 50 such former inmates over the next year. The consequences to a community are many if these individuals re-offend, including: new crime victims, higher cost to tax payers, loss of productivity, and unsupported families and children.

If you are interested in providing mentoring or other volunteer services for ex-offenders, and strengthening your community in doing so, please call Ann Wessells at the Accomack County Probation and Parole office at 787-5890.

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