When Yolanda Hines accepted the position as director of the Southside Community Corrections and Pre-trial services in March of 2020, she quickly discovered the agency needed more bodies to plug the holes in the workload.
Hines waited nearly two years to ask for funding from localities. She had a purpose to her method. The director wanted to back her plea with positive results. The numbers don’t lie, and the Emporia City Council voted to approve the $3,109 in funding to transition a part-time position into a full-time job.
Other localities in the 6th District Court system include the counties of Greensville, Brunswick, and Sussex. Should their governing bodies follow suit with Emporia, Hines will receive the much-needed extra help.
Southside Community Corrections (SCC) was the first agency in Virginia to utilize the GE)STATES GPS to track defendants on home incarceration or work release. The model brought success. The 100% public safety rate for pre-trial services under Hines’ watch is a dramatic improvement over the previous 76% public safety number. Unfortunately for Hines’ agency, pre-trial services are increasing.
“Ninety-Nine percent of the jail growth in the last 15 years has been through the detention of people who were later found innocent,” Hines said. “What that means is a lot of the time we put people in jail that may not need to be in jail. They can remain at home, and still be a productive citizen by working, taking care of their children, and being a part of their families.”
Hines added that many people in jail are there because they cannot afford the bail. While forking out $50 on a $500 bail doesn’t seem to be a burden for many, For some, $50 is a hardship.
According to Hines, the cost of keeping a defendant for pre-trial court in her system is $4.17 daily. If the person is incarcerated, that number balloons to $88.31 a day.
SCC Corrections and pre-trial services programs include education, mental health evaluation referrals and treatments, and drug testing.
Commonwealth Attorney Patricia Watson had high praises for Hines and how effective her agency became when she took over nearly two years ago. Watson said there is state-funded adult probation and parole, but it isn’t as hands-on as the SCC.
The Commonwealth Attorney said the SCC helps her office by keeping people from re-offending and letting those out that need to go back to work if her office believes it’s safe to do so. Watson said Hines office does not have the personnel needed to cover four jurisdictions.
“I think you’re going to see a return on your money,” Watson told the Emporia City Council. Number 1, I think that return comes from helping the citizens, and Number 2, helping to decrease the costs, which is the bottom line.”
The current funding approved by the Emporia City Council would be applied through the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The total would be $7,218 from each locality during the next fiscal year budget.
The SCC receives $22,880 in Department of Criminal Justice funding for the part-time position. The balance is $28,874.64 to complete the $51,754.64 package, including benefits and the Virginia Retirement System.