RICHMOND — This week, the Virginia Department of Corrections honors the men and women on its frontline who are protecting and promoting the safety of incarcerated Virginians as well as the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Ralph Northam has proclaimed May 3 to May 9 to be Correctional Officers’ Week in Virginia, a time to recognize those who serve as correctional officers in the Commonwealth.
“Virginia’s correctional officers have shown remarkable dedication through their ingenuity, teamwork, and perseverance during this challenging time,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “They are making sacrifices and working around the clock to maintain public safety and ensure our prisons are among the safest in the nation.”
The VADOC has prided itself over the last decade on a cultural change that includes extensive training and a healing approach taught to all new correctional officers. As a product of that change, last year, for the fourth consecutive year, Virginia registered the lowest recidivism rate in the nation at 23.1 percent.
While promoting low recidivism, this cultural change also prepared officers for the challenges presented by the global pandemic.
“As an agency, the VADOC has moved seamlessly to meet the never before seen challenges posed by a global pandemic. Every part the agency has adjusted to meet these challenges. Our nearly 7,000 correctional officers and their coworkers have responded unflinchingly in the face of the invisible and lethal threat posed by COVID-19, and deserve tremendous thanks for their commitment. They have learned, in a very short time, a new way to approach their jobs, to preserve their own safety, the safety of inmates, the safety of their loved ones and the safety of their greater community,” said VADOC Director Harold Clarke.
Throughout the week, VADOC will pause to recognize and honor Virginia’s correctional officers. More than half of the Department’s 13,000 authorized positions are correctional officers.