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WHEREAS, the vast majority of the more than 24,185 people currently serving sentences in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s prisons and jails will transition into communities throughout the state; and
WHEREAS, helping individuals with criminal records become productive members of society benefits their families and communities in many ways, including improving safety and preventing and reducing crime; and
WHEREAS, formerly incarcerated individuals face numerous challenges that include finding employment and housing, accessing healthcare, education, and transportation, and these challenges may lead to an individual’s unsuccessful reentry into society and recidivism; and
WHEREAS, federal, state, and local leaders have worked to establish Dream Corps JUSTICE which supports individuals who return to their communities after serving time in prison, jail, or under custodial supervision; and
WHEREAS, Dream Corps JUSTICE has developed plans and policies to facilitate a better transition for people from incarceration or community supervision back into society by coordinating existing resources, identifying resource gaps, and advocating on behalf of individuals with criminal records; and
WHEREAS, the National Day of Empathy includes representation from government, education, faith-and community-based organizations, as well as representation from individuals formerly incarcerated, and studies the needs of individuals who have been released from correctional institutions and works to increase the effectiveness of local reentry councils and smart criminal justice policies andr practices; and
WHEREAS, the National Day of Empathy serves to connect justice-involved individuals with resources and services important to successful reentry, and decrease stigma by raising public awareness of the issues and challenges faced by returning citizens as they reenter the community;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize March 2, 2021, as NATIONAL DAY OF EMPATHY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.