Over the now 11 year existence of this website we have occasionally recognized individuals for their service to our community. When we do it is often because we observed some act that was so unique and compelling that we felt it was worthy of special recognition. Such is the case of Richmond, Virginia Sheriff C.T. Woody, Jr.
We were introduced to Sheriff Woody through an ABC World News segment that highlighted his holding a daddy-daughter dance in jail so fathers could stay connected to their girls. It was a touching example of the compassion of a public servant and his willingness to recognize the humanity of those incarcerated and the importance of maintaining family ties. Sheriff Woody clearly recognizes that the criminal justice system cannot simply be punitive if society expects those who have run afoul of the law to return to communities and be productive citizens, and caring fathers. For too long we have exacted a lifetime civil death penalty upon the incarcerated and treated them as pariahs unable to learn from their mistakes and change their life circumstances. Sheriff Woody sees the men under his watch as capable of redemption and understands that while he must enforce the law, he also has a moral obligation to help individuals who made mistakes that warranted their imprisonment.
After contacting Sheriff Woody we learned a little more about what he is trying to accomplish and it extends far beyond the dance that ABC News captured. The sheriff said, “Our goal, and I may sound like a broken record, is to help them become better citizens instead of better criminals. Programs which help families build a bond (that may never have been there before) do work! Anything which helps moms and dads become better, more responsible parents, is proven to reduce recidivism rates.” Sheriff Woody has invested considerable effort in working with the community and faith-based leaders. He indicated that for three years he has teamed with a faith-based organization, Kingdom Life Ministries, and the partnership has saved Richmond taxpayers $8 million over a 3-year period. He is currently overseeing the construction of the Richmond Justice Center which will be the first in the country designed around alternative programs aimed at helping families and reducing recidivism.
The daddy-daughter dance that was highlighted was the work of his committed staff and community partners InsideOut Dads of Richmond and Camp Diva, groups that partner with the Sheriff’s department’s fatherhood programs. As Sheriff Woody said concerning the offenders in his facility, “We have an opportunity to be a solution, or at least provide other options to these individuals while they are in our care... If we do our jobs effectively, we'll do more than keep them safe, and keep the public safe.” We agree and it is why Sheriff C.T. Woody, Jr. is our Person of the Week.
Source: ABC News
An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the Richmond Justice Center and erroneously stated taxpayers savings at $3 million. We regret the errors and have corrected them accordingly.