Paying Time for the Crime

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

They did the crime. Now they're paying the time, but not behind bars.

In Rockingham County, non-violent criminals who haven't paid child support or have committed credit card fraud can literally work off their debt.

Juette Renalds, President of RAID International, says, "We hate to say we're building a better inmate, but we're building a better citizen when they're released from jail."

Since it began, RAID, or "Restitution and Inmate Development," has collected $100 million in delinquent child support statewide. It was adopted locally in 1998 and has since reclaimed $640,000 for county victims.

It's success in the Valley has won it statewide recognition. But it's also helping area employers, cutting down on overcrowding in the jail and saving taxpayers money.

Sheriff Don Farley explains, "We don't have to pay the $55 a day which was the approximate cost to keep them in jail, and that alone has saved well over a half million dollars in tax payer money in the last two years."

Locally, RAID has grown from six participants to almost forty. Qualified inmates are put under house arrest and put to work in the community. Farley says it's helped some of them build a better life.

"When their time was up and their sentence was fulfilled, they were then hired by that agency to continue working there," says Farley.

Lt. Wes Jordan of the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, says, "I think it's another tool we can tap into to keep people out of jail, to keep them working and to get them going on the straight and narrow."

Sheriff Farley says while RAID has already collected a lot of child support for local kids, parents in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County still owe $15 to $20 million.


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