RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Corrections’ (VADOC) Voice Verification Biometrics Unit (VVBU) is the 2023 recipient of the prestigious State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award from the Southern Legislative Conference.
This award marks the fourth time the Department has won the award within the last 10 years. The VADOC is one of four agencies in the Commonwealth to win the award.
VVBU was created in 2016 to introduce and implement a safer and more effective means of communication between probationers/parolees. The VVBU provides a comprehensive system of supervision, services, and sanctions to assist adult offenders in leading law-abiding lives, resulting in enhanced public safety. The unit supervises low-risk probationers and parolees across the Commonwealth of Virginia using facial recognition and voice verification biometrics via Shadowtrack Technologies.
Led by Chief Probation and Parole Officer Krista Varady and Deputy Chief Probation and Parole Officer Chrishana Frye, more than 11,000 probationers are being supervised by eight VVBU staff members. The caseload of the VVBU accounts for 25% of the active cases within the department, which helps provide lower caseloads at probation and parole districts.
The recidivism rate for supervisees in the VVBU program is 1.2%, demonstrating that the program is helping to create long-term public safety in the Commonwealth. The VADOC’s current overall recidivism rate is 20.6% and Virginia has had the lowest or second-lowest recidivism rate in the United States in each of the past seven years.
“Winning this award highlights the Department’s commitment to excellence and why the Department is a standard-bearer nationally in Corrections,” said VADOC Director Chadwick Dotson. “The VVBU represents the innovative measures the Department has undergone and the outstanding work the unit has done in seven years is nothing short of remarkable. We are honored to be recognized for this award and it is a privilege to work with such an amazing team.”
By trusting the science of evidenced-based practices and leveraging this technology in community corrections, the VADOC has an average annual cost savings of more than $3 million.
The STAR Award recognizes “impactful, creative, effective, and transferable state government solutions. Innovative program submissions are accepted from a wide array of state agencies, departments, and institutions operating within the executive, legislative, and judicial governmental branches.”
In 2013, 2016, and 2021, VADOC won the STAR Award for its Step Down Program for Administrative Segregation, American Council on Education Accreditation Project in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, and Secure Diversionary Treatment Program (SDTP) for inmates with Serious Mental Illnesses, respectively.
The Department received the award at the 77th Southern Legislative Conference hosted by the Council of State Governments Southern Office on July 11 in Charleston, South Carolina.