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Virginia Department of Corrections — Public Safety First

News: Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2011- Contact Larry Traylor, (804) 674-3574

Virginia Department of Corrections Unveils Green Jobs Training Program

RICHMOND - Today the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Department of Correctional Education (DCE) unveiled the new Green Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Vocational Program at Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Va. The job training program supports Gov. Bob McDonnell’s commitment to strengthen the state’s prisoner re-entry program by giving inmates the education and experience necessary to pursue careers in the energy efficiency field upon their release. 

"Through educational programs like this we can improve public safety and reduce recidivism by providing offenders with marketable skills for when they are released back into their communities," said Marla Graff Decker, secretary of public safety. "Virginia's Re-Entry initiative provides programs that assist inmates in their effort to succeed, rather than re-offend upon release. This training program will help everyone accomplish their goals."
   
Johnson Controls, the global leader in delivering solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings, developed the Green HVAC Vocational Program, which includes a training facility, state-of-the-art HVAC equipment and comprehensive curriculum led by experienced instructors. The program will prepare offenders for HVAC-related careers, such as service mechanics, controls technicians and maintenance specialists.

The Indian Creek Correctional Center offers an institution-based treatment program for incarcerated offenders. The medium-security facility houses male offenders and is one of the largest prison-based therapeutic communities in the nation. Inmates’ skills and aptitudes will be assessed to help ensure future success throughout the Green HVAC Vocational Program.

“Research shows that there is a strong link between an offender’s education level and the likelihood that he returns to prison,” said Harold Clarke, director, Virginia Department of Corrections.  “This vocational program helps our offenders increase their odds of succeeding in society.”

The educational program is also part of the DOC’s commitment to energy, water and operational efficiency. Johnson Controls is currently conducting an energy and facility improvement initiative at more than 20 correctional facilities. Through HVAC and lighting technology upgrades, the department’s electricity use is projected to be reduced by more than 17.3 million kilowatts per hour. Water conservation measures including new fixtures and electronic controls are expected to decrease water use by more than 244 million gallons over 15 years. Additionally, a new 300-panel solar thermal system will help heat water at the St. Brides Correctional facility and is projected to reduce propane use by 25 percent. For these efforts, DOC was among the winners of the 2011 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards, presented earlier this year.

“Not only is the Virginia DOC committed to managing an environmentally and fiscally responsible organization, they also understand the important role they play in their offenders’ future lives,” said Joy Clarke-Holmes, regional vice president and general manager, Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls. “Our job training program can help these inmates create a more sustainable community.”  . 

"That first job when released from incarceration is critical to successful re-entry into society and we are committed to doing all we can to make sure our students are as prepared as possible to enter the work force and attain employment," said Patrick Wilson, Department of Correctional Education interim superintendent.

DCE provides educational services in adult and youth correctional facilities throughout Virginia.