The Norfolk Sheriff's Office provides many programs to inmates to help them prepare for a smooth reentry back into society once their sentences are served:
Priority Automotive Training Center
Priority Automotive is joining with Tidewater Community College and the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office to put the brakes on crime and give repeat, non-violent offenders a new lease on life. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam joined Priority Automotive, TCC and the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Thursday afternoon to unveil the automobile dealer’s new Priority Technical Training Center in Chesapeake, where 16 non-violent offenders from the Norfolk Jail have already begun training for solid jobs as auto technicians.
“Teaching non-violent offenders to make a good honest living and put their past in the rearview mirror is good for our communities, good for our law enforcement agencies, and good for Priority,” Priority CEO and President Dennis Ellmer said. “This may seem like an unlikely partnership, but it just makes perfect sense.”
Built and funded entirely by Priority, the state-of-the-art automotive center opens as dealerships across the country scramble to find highly-skilled auto technicians to service vehicles that grow more technologically advanced by the day. Ellmer said he got the idea during a trip to Fiji, where he met a tour guide who earned a tourism degree while incarcerated in a local jail. “I thought, ‘Wow, we have to do something like this back home,’” Ellmer said.
So he did. Not long after his return, Ellmer shared his idea with former TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani, who loved the idea. The pair approached the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, where Lt. Col. Mike O’Toole helped bring the concept to life. “We have people coming out of our jail with few opportunities for worthwhile employment because of their past,” O’Toole said. “And with no way to find a decent job and make an honest living, they sometimes resort to old habits and wind up right back here in jail. There’s both a social and financial cost to that for taxpayers. It can be a revolving door that just keeps spinning. This program is designed to put an end to that.”
In fact, it costs Norfolk taxpayers an average of $26,000 to house a single offender for one year, said Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron. “What we know is over 96% of our offenders are coming back to our community,” Baron said. “We also know former offenders are less likely to return to jail if they have gainful employment at the time of their release. By funding the cost to build the center and pay the trainees’ tuition, what Priority is doing here is nothing short of life changing for these inmates. And great for the community.”
Sheriff Baron’s office has been instrumental in implementation of the program by evaluating and selecting participants, providing transportation to and from class and work, and providing tools and facilities for inmates to study and complete homework assignments. The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has had a work release program in place for more than 30 years, with inmates working at businesses in the community. “This is a logical next step,” Sheriff Baron said. “Combining our work release program with an educational vocational program is a natural next step in promoting rehabilitation and saving tax dollars by reducing the number of people who return to jail.”
Located just behind the Priority Infiniti dealership in Chesapeake, the new Priority Technical Training Center has been two years in the making. The Center includes 12 repair bays, and will train 16 non-violent offenders for careers in automotive repair through a 2-year certified program offered by Tidewater Community College.Tidewater Community College President Gregory DeCinque sees the program as a valuable resource for Hampton Roads. “The Priority program is the latest example of TCC focusing on access to educational opportunities and responding to the needs of the automotive industry to train additional technicians. Ultimately, this will not only improve people’s lives but also our regional economy,” he said.
Classes start in September and end in May. Trainees will attend class full time two days a week and work at Priority dealerships three days a week. After completing their second semester, trainees will be offered full-time jobs at one of 14 Priority dealerships across Hampton Roads. They will also have the opportunity to continue their education, earn new certifications and even earn an associate’s degree from TCC.
“This is not just about saving taxpayers money or filling jobs at my dealerships,” Ellmer said. “This is about giving these people a sense of worth, a second chance, and an opportunity to live the right way and do the right thing,” Ellmer said. “And we think that’s good for everyone.”
"Pathway" - An Educational Journey
Inmate Educational Pathway Programs Offered
(please note: This is subject to change)
Instructional Phase 1
- Adult Basic Literacy (led by NSO GED teacher and Humanities Behind Bars volunteers)
- GED (taught by Norfolk Public Schools special education instructors)
- Humanities Behind Bars (5 classes offered ranging from The Politics of US History to 20th Century African American Music); taught by local professors and educational volunteers
- Seven Cities Writers Project (creative writing class taught by local educator)
- Other Educational Class Instructions
Instructional Phase 2 “Evidence Based”
- Alcohol / Chemical Dependency Treatment
- Anger Management
- Domestic Violence
- Balancing Your Life
- Before and After
- Thinking for Change
- 3 Principles
- Other classes to address Risk Factors
Instructional Phase 3
- Barber Training
- Cosmetology Training
- Food Handlers (3 years) or Serve Safe (5 years)
- Fork Lift Certificate / OSHA (3 days x 5Hrs)
- Landscape Design Course (8 Weeks)
- Money/Financial Management
- Religious Studies
- Retail Customer Service
- Small Business Operations
- Other Vocational Classes as approved
Community Partners Identified Phase 4 (Released to Community)
- Church Groups
- Non- Profit Org.
See Lifestyles for a description of each course
Norfolk Circuit Court Reentry Docket (NCCRD)
The Norfolk Circuit Court Reentry Docket (NCCRD) is a coordinated effort of Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, Norfolk Probation and Parole, Norfolk Public Defender’s Office, and City of Norfolk.
NCCRD is intended to develop and promote an effective and efficient system of substance abuse treatment, accountability, and successful reintegration into the community for its participants.
NCCRD will provide coordinated and comprehensive reentry planning, supervision, substance abuse treatment, case management, and judicial oversight with the goals of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety, and increasing participation in targeted services to meet offender needs.
NCCRD is a Second Chance Act federally funded program. It is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
RE-ENTRY DOCKET PHASES
Pre-Release Phase: Norfolk City Jail Programming
6 months prior to release date
Screened for need/eligibility of the following: Life skills and cognitive thinking, employment skills, anger management, money management, domestic violence education, substance abuse treatment, GED preparation/exam, work release or GPS monitoring, and housing services.
The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office offers a wide range of opportunities to help inmates successfully reenter society.
Alcohol & Chemical Treatment Drug Education: a 90-day session, taught by members of the Norfolk Apostolic Church, an evidence-based cognitive behavior session, focusing on addiction and recovery
Thinking for a Change: An integrated cognitive behavioral change program incorporating research from cognitive restricting theory, social skills development, and the learning and learning and use of problem solving skills
AA/NA: Weekly Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous are held by Norfolk Jail volunteers. The Tidewater AA Council provides the group counseling sessions.
CHOICES: A re-entry program focusing on a variety of subjects such as building self-esteem, decision making, domestic violence, sexual abuse, health education, employment preparation and addiction recovery
CBT Program: An evidence based program is a form of psychotherapy that teaches offenders specific cognitive and behavior skills to help them management depression, mood swings, anxiety and stress
Renewal: A 90-day spiritual re-entry, reconnecting inmates with a higher power
Second Chances: a program designed to reconnect fathers with their estranged families. Fathers are taken on educational field trips to strengthen and unify parenting relations
Motherhood/ The Messages Project: a program designed to assist in the first step toward reunifying inmates with their families
Fatherhood: A program designed to reunite fathers with their children
GED/Adult Literacy Program:
- Barber Training: Barber training and license course is a 6 month skilled based professional barbering classroom and hands-on training
- Landscaping Design: During this 8 week class students will learn the 12 step process of designing a functional landscape plan
- Art Therapy: Introduction to art therapy workshop, offering mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational and expressive therapy. Facilitated by a volunteer art therapist.
- Virginia Community Yoga Project: This course focuses on teaching mindfulness practices which include yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, nonviolent communication and reconciliation.
- Creative Writing/Writing Poetry: In this 8-week workshop, students will be reading, discussing and practicing the craft of poetry and creative writing.
- Introduction to Philosophy: This course provides an introduction to the study of philosophy.
- Music and Writing: In this class, students write and record songs in diverse musical genres. The program also recognizes the transformative potential of music and writing, seeking to facilitate opportunities for creative expression that cultivate mental and spiritual wellbeing.
- Public Speaking and Communication: Public Speaking and Communications is a student driven course that identifies different types of public speaking and pursues strategies to engage in weekly composition and practice applications.
- 20th Century African American Music: In this course students conduct historic and critical analyses of African American music covering the 20th Century.
- 3 Principles: The empowerment class teaches individuals how to access and sustain inner health and resilience. The class provides support for those who have been impacted by addiction, mental health issues and offending behavior.
- Barber Training: Barber training and license course is a 6 month skilled based professional barbering classroom and hands-on training
Call 757-664-4191 for information!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program
A court ordered, 90 day Individual and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program for individuals with co-occurring disorders (one or more substance abuse disorders and one or more psychiatric disorders at the same time). Funding for this program will serve 15 offender groups each week for three years and excludes state inmates.
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that teaches offenders specific cognitive and behavior skills to help them manage depression, mood swings, anxiety, stress, etc.
Addiction is a disease. Focus is to learn about addiction process and how alcohol/drugs have affected the offender’s body and life.
Group sessions focus on the desire to use, recent relapses, struggles with potent emotions, and/or conflicts with other group members or family members.
One treatment plan addresses both substance abuse and mental health needs. Integrated services are important because people with co-occurring disorders have a better chance of recovery from both when they receive combined or integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment from the same clinician or treatment team.
ADDICTION RECOVERY GRANT PROGRAM
The Addiction Recovery Program aims to help our inmates with substance abuse and other mental health issues address their illnesses and prepare for a better life upon their release from incarceration. It is designed to provide co-occurring substance abuse and mental health inmates a treatment program offering cognitive behavior treatment therapy with group and individual counseling from licensed clinical therapists, reentry classes and services, and trauma informed care classes.
The goals of this program are to decrease recidivism, enhance public safety, and close gaps in the existing continuum of care to the city’s vulnerable populations. This provides programming and release plans for mental health inmates with an in-custody program prior to their release from custody. We are the first Sheriff’s Office to offer this kind of treatment in Virginia. It was funded by a $48,000 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Each Thursday, eligible inmates participate in weekly NA/AA group alcohol and drug treatment. Classes for men and women are on Thursday nights. The Tidewater AA Council provides the group counseling service.
For more information, call us at 664-4191.
GED/Adult Literacy Program
Inmates who cannot read, write or perform simple math computations are identified for the Literacy Program.
Pre-General and General Educational Development Preparatory Programs are geared specifically toward an inmates’ diagnostic levels for Writing, Social Studies, Natural Sciences, Interpreting Literature Arts, and Math.
Additionally, in a partnership with the Norfolk Public Schools and in accordance with the Individuals Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), educational services are provided to inmates ages 13-22 with a history of special education.
The program provides services in the areas of GED skills, basic academics, remedial reading, and social skills. A variety of teaching techniques and expertise are implemented to ensure the learning of inmates who exhibit a variety of disabilities and learning modalities are met.