Day Reporting Center opens in Richmond - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Day Reporting Center opens in Richmond

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The opening of a new program aimed at decreasing the jail population marks a big shift in how Richmond deals with criminals.

The Day Reporting Center in the public safety building downtown now serves as an alternative to incarceration for certain offenders, but it does have some people worried. They are concerned about what kind of criminals will now be out on city streets instead of behind bars.

"This is a facility for folks who would've gone to jail because they pose a high risk of offense at relatively low level," Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring responded. "It's not going to be a program for people who are high risk for significant harm."

Those high-risk prisoners will still have to report to jail, but the new Day Reporting Center is now an option for some low-risk criminals. It will not only help with overcrowding issues but offers offenders treatment. The program is structured to change criminal behavior through group therapy and classes on substance abuse, anger management and life skills.

"Successive stays of three to six months really aren't doing anything other than costing me and you a lot of money," Herring told us.

This will not be a walk in the park. The center, run by the Geo Group, will have offenders come in every single day to start out. They'll be given breathalyzers and drug tests. That treatment will eventually be cut to five, then three days for terms ranging from 90-150 days.

"It's a way to really challenge their thinking, to get them on the right path and make their own decisions in the right way," Area Manager Rodney Quinn explained.

There is criticism criminals sent to the center are not actually being punished, but Herring doesn't see it that way.

"If you send me to jail for the level of offense that we're contemplating here, five to six months from the day that I walk in, I will walk out, I will be no different," he added. "If this works, I should be a radically different person and hopefully a productive citizen."

The city is paying the Geo Group, a company out of Florida, $800,000 annually to run the center, which can serve 150 people daily. Right now, it is a two-year contract.

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