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Votes

Working To Help Ex-Offenders

Local probation office reintegrates ex-offenders into community.

C.W. “Corky” Rorrer, Chief, Probation & Parole, Arlington and Falls Church District #10, Virginia Department of Corrections

C.W. “Corky” Rorrer, Chief, Probation & Parole, Arlington and Falls Church District #10, Virginia Department of Corrections Photo by Gerald A. Fill

Arlington County Probation Case

This is a summary case study example of what C.W. “Corky” Rorrer, chief, Probation and Parole, Arlington and Falls Church District #10, and his team of probation officers like to highlight as a positive example of what can happen when their efforts turn out well.

“Female; history of substance abuse; on probation after serving time for substance abuse violation; referred to detox program; tested positive for drugs in violation of probation; became pregnant; in and out of detox program; arrested and reincarcerated while on probation; attempted suicide; overdosed on heroin; near death. Arrested again and reincarcerated; entered addictions corrections treatment (ACT) while in jail. Subsequently completed ACT and again placed on probation; during latter part of probation supervision entered college course of study when transferred to another jurisdiction. Total probation, 2007-2010. Currently off supervised probation and drug free and realizing a very successful career in life for the past three years.”

“This is the kind of outcome we are working toward …. people make some bad choices but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to make better choices and make something of themselves in society,” said Rorrer.

Probably the only time the average citizen hears about the Department of Corrections probation program is when something goes wrong. An offender on probation violates his or her terms of her parole and commits a crime. The public is outraged and concerned about their safety and the safety of the community.

In Virginia recidivism — the rate of reincarceration — happens on an average 23.4 percent of the time for the past three years — second in the nation after Oklahoma. Rarely does the public learn about the benefits and successes of the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Probation and Parole Districts.

The program, when it works as it should, provides an offender who has served time in jail and on probation with help to reintegrate back into the community to lead productive law-abiding lives. Ex-offenders are not easily reintegrated into society; they are hard to place in jobs and often, according to C.W. “Corky” Rorrer, chief, Probation and Parole, Arlington and Falls Church District #10, and others, face mental health and other social and relationship problems that impede successful rehabilitation.

Rorrer, a 37-year veteran of the Department of Corrections and a former chief probation officer from South Boston and Martinsville, supervises a staff of 13 probation officers who in turn supervise an average of 658 men and women on probation. In the three jurisdictions in northern Virginia (Arlington-Falls Church, Fairfax County and City of Alexandria) a total of approximately 3,300 men and women are on supervised probation at any one time. Of those, approximately 270 parolees are released monthly into the community.

Why would someone want to stay in the probation and parole field with the Virginia Department of Corrections for 37 years? More to the point, why would one want to stay in the corrections program for a career after spending, as Rorrer did as a young field probation officer, over five hours at gunpoint while the parolee, who was mentally ill, rode around in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, deciding what to do with young “Corky” Rorrer? Rorrer survived the parolee’s gunpoint kidnapping by talking his way out of the dangerous predicament: “ I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing what our efforts can do to turn around a parolee’s life and return the person to a productive life. To be in my business for as long as I have been, it is a calling … a very interesting career, with something new happening every day.”.

Rorrer has a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree from Radford University, both in psychology.