10 graduate from Danville Police Department’s “Incarceration Doesn’t Define Us” program

Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Danville Police Department is helping people who were formerly incarcerated or heading down the wrong path find their way back into the community through relationships and resources.

10 people graduated from the Incarceration Doesn’t Define Us (I.D.D.U) program Tuesday morning.

“We wanted to focus on something to help people not return to jail,” said Ashtyn Foddrell, Community Relations Liaison. “We wanted to focus on how we could do restorative justice and how we could really bring that recidivism rate down, and we thought this was the perfect way to do it.”

The eight-week program helps previously incarcerated individuals get connected to resources that are available to them. They learned about budgeting, housing and education options, interview skills, resume building, and more.

“It’s like a resource magnet,” said Deborah Coles, IDDU Graduate. “I’d have never thought that these resources were available to someone like me because of the stigmatization and the things that happen to people incarcerated people. But, this class has taught me that there is stuff out there for us. There is hope for all of us.”

It also strengthens relationships between police officers and returning citizens.

“This class has taught me that sometimes they have to make split-second decisions. It was scary the stuff that they have to face on a regular basis. So, it gave me a different view about the law enforcement and especially the ones in Danville,” added Coles.

The Danville Police Department also partners with local organizations to provide the participants with mental health resources.

“A holistic approach is one that I think is more effective than a piecemeal one,” said Tom Cornejo CEO of Calm Source. “The police in this community specifically are really trying to show that they care. A program like ours in combination with the police force, with counselors, and other services does provide that holistic approach to get people to the next level and, hopefully, get out of the services long term.”

“We’ve had local organizations reach out to us that help people get back on their feet. So, we’ve helped some of them get jobs and some of them get housing. Some of them had no idea how to manage money, and we were able to help them get that as well,” said Foddrell.

Those interested in joining I.D.D.U can contact Ashtyn Foddrell with the Danville Police Department at 434-797-8898, ext. 5 or via email at ashtyn.foddrell@danvilleva.gov.