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Taking Root, Fairfax County Diversion Program Marks One Year Milestone

09 Jan 2024, Jail News, Recidivism, by

Fairfax County, VA, leaders celebrate the one-year success of “Taking Root,” a diversion program providing a Virginia alternative to jail.

Taking Root, Fairfax County Diversion Program Marks One Year Milestone - Inmate Lookup

On Monday, leaders from Fairfax County, Virginia, joined together to celebrate the “Taking Root” diversion program. This program is intended to keep those who have been charged with specific crimes out of the court system.

Commonwealth’s attorney Steve Descano mentioned that the program, which has seen 20 graduates among its 100 participants, offers an alternative to prosecution or jail for eligible first-time and low-level adult offenders.

Approximately one year has passed since the program celebrated the graduation of its very first student.

Ultimately, the objective of Taking Root is to provide nonviolent offenders with the option to address minor infractions outside of the court system and to provide them with the opportunity to escape the stigma associated with a criminal conviction.

Eligible individuals can access various services, including substance abuse and mental health assessments, vocation and education referrals, job skill training, case management, and assistance with affordable housing.

According to Descano, the program requires courage from participants to engage in self-improvement and better their lives. Importantly, the primary goal is to reduce recidivism rates.

Firstly, to qualify, individuals must obtain a judge’s approval and plead guilty to the charges. Lastly, upon successful completion of the program, they will reduce or dismiss the charges for the individual.

Descano pointed out the transformative potential of diversion programs, highlighting their role in taking individuals out of the justice system and facilitating entry into meaningful careers.

Meanwhile, Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine echoed the sentiment, asserting that people who make mistakes deserve a second chance. He acknowledged the program’s role in helping individuals learn and grow, avoiding entanglement in the criminal justice system.

In addition to existing programs, county leaders announced the launch of a new diversion program called Pathfinder Kitchen. This program provides individuals with an opportunity to avoid jail time and receive professional restaurant training for a potential career in the food industry.

Lastly, Descano emphasized that participants in the program will actively engage in work at several restaurants, gaining valuable training and seizing the associated opportunities.