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July 6, 2017

Fauquier jail program gives inmates work skills

It gets them back into a working routine. A lot of the time they will participate in this first and then move onto the work-release program with a full paying job. It’s somewhat of a reintegration thing.
— Capt. Mark Lavoie
Service Work Program
• What: Inmate work program five to six days a week.

• Work: Landscaping, furniture moving, waxing/cleaning floors, snow removal, painting and other jobs.

• Where: County-owned buildings and parks around Fauquier County from Upperville to Goldvein.

• Members: Six inmates on the building and grounds crew.

• Pay: $3 per day.

• Annual county savings: $185,000.

• Website: Click here.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Three inmates tug at weeds and manicure bushes in front of the Fauquier County courthouse, sweating in the summer heat on a Friday morning.

The men make up part of the buildings and grounds crew, a division of the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center’s community service work program.

Five to six days per week, the crew helps with landscaping, furniture moving, waxing/cleaning floors, painting and other jobs in county-owned buildings and parks from Upperville to Goldvein.

If needed, the crew can respond at any time to remove storm debris or snow.

“It’s a lot of manual labor,” says Senior Crew Chief John Utz, a county employee in charge of supervising the inmates.

The rehabilitation program started about 27 years ago, according to Mr. Utz.

The inmates get paid $3 a day for the work.

In fiscal 2016, the building and grounds crew saved the county about $185,000 in contract work, according to Manager Matthew Gulick.

The inmates maintain the plant beds and mow the courthouse and Warren Green Building grounds about once a week.

“It gets them back into a working routine,” says Adult Detention Center Commander Mark Lavoie. “A lot of the time they will participate in this first and then move onto the work-release program with a full paying job. It’s somewhat of a reintegration thing.”

After the inmates have received their jail sentences, they can apply for one of three divisions in the program: buildings and grounds, the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority or the landfill.

“They’re screened very carefully” with background checks and drug tests, Capt. Lavoie says. “No violent offenses, nothing sexual and no escape history.”

Steven Fairfax, 39, has been on the landscaping crew for about two months.

“I see it as a way to try to better myself,” Mr. Fairfax says. “It’s helping me out because now I’m learning about landscaping. This might be something I look into when I get back home.”

Mr. Fairfax previously served in the jail’s kitchen and decided to transfer to the community service crew.

“You’re not sitting in the jail wasting time,” he says. “You’re out doing something constructive.”

Richard Gatlin, 25, has worked on the crew for only a few days.

“It beats sitting in the block (cell),” Mr. Gatlin says. “It’s small in there. You get space out here. You get to be in the community again.”

“It’s actually calmed me down,” he added. “You’re not elbow-to-elbow with everyone. It makes time go by faster.”

Mr. Gatlin has been in jail since May. He has an 18-month sentence for a probation violation of possession of morphine.

Eventually he hopes to apply for the work-release program.

Joe Payne, 33, a former construction worker, enjoys getting back to work.

“It has taught me a lot about plants and how to take care of them because I didn’t do anything like this before,” Mr. Payne says. “This program helps people out, especially those who don’t have job skills.”

He has about 40 days left in jail after being sentenced for distribution of heroine.

After inmates get released from jail, some use the skills they’ve learned to get jobs at landscaping companies.

“It gives them a purpose,” says Cpl. Kristin Nicholas of the jail’s transportation and work-release division.

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Kay G. · July 11, 2017 at 9:38 am
An excellent program that needs to be replicated everywhere. Inmates who are productive and learning new skills are far more likely not to end up back in jail; they are happier, fewer behavioral problems in jail, it can improve confidence and a sense of giving back to the community. It's nothing but positive for all.
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