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Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023

Charlottesville Police officers shot someone near the intersection of Hydraulic Road and the 250 Bypass today. According to the department’s Twitter account, the man “pointed a firearm at several officers. Officers engaged the suspect, striking him.” The man is in critical condition at UVA Medical Center. For more information, you can follow NBC19’s coverage here.

We’ll be tracking the circumstances of the shooting, sharing others’ and our own reporting to help keep you informed. If you have questions or tips, please contact us here.

A dark school hallway has bulletin boards on one wall and metal lockers on the other.
Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

City Schools wanted to address staffing issues by hiring nonviolent returning citizens. State lawmakers said no

Right now, state law bans nearly all people convicted of felonies, and many people convicted of misdemeanors, from working at schools. But with ongoing staffing issues — particularly for school bus drivers — Charlottesville City Schools was hoping to change that. The School Board’s idea was to open that law a bit and allow people who committed “specific non-violent” crimes to work for the division. But to do that, the district needed state lawmakers’ OK. And they didn’t get it.

It wasn’t that lawmakers voted against the proposal — no one even wrote a bill. As Charlottesville’s House of Delegates representative, Democrat Sally Hudson was the most likely legislator to do so. But she had a couple reasons not to touch it. Her first was that she didn’t think Republicans would go for it, and since Republicans control the House, she’d need their approval. The second was that she thought the proposal needed some fine tuning.

The district’s proposal read: “Implement ‘second chance’ procedures for job applicants with specific non-violent felony records. With an eye always on student safety, these changes could broaden the application pool for positions such as custodian or school bus driver.”

A child steps of a school bus toward a waiting woman.
Credit: Kori Price/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Late last year, City Schools was short 30 of the 40 bus drivers it needed to give a seat to every child who requested bus transportation

To have a chance at earning broad community support — especially from parents who would be concerned about having ex-offenders near their children — this proposal would need to be much more specific, folks who work with people after they’re released from prison say. Instead of simply saying it will hire “nonviolent offenders,” officials should list out which offenses someone could have on their record and still be allowed to work for the school system. Examples could be someone who was caught with cocaine or someone who stole another person’s credit card.

The people who advocate for returning citizens who spoke with Charlottesville Tomorrow hope the school district gives this idea a second try. Opening opportunities like this would benefit returning citizens, and the greater community, they say. People with convictions seriously struggle to find employment, and the longer they go without decent work the more likely they are to commit more crime.

Data backs this up. The Department of Justice recently tracked the employment outcomes of every person released from federal prison in 2010 for four years. They found that 33% of those individuals had no work at all during that time. And at any given time, only 40% of the cohort was gainfully employed — leaving 60% jobless. What’s more, those who found work averaged more than three different jobs during those four years. You can read more about the report and the circumstances that create this issue in this article from the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit organization that researches the criminal justice system in hopes of sparking reform.

Credit: Ézé Amos/Charlottesville Tomorrow

A handful of people incarcerated at the local jail are training for careers in the culinary industry

City School’s proposal is not the only local effort underway to help this issue. Chef Antwon Brinson runs a culinary training program with inmates at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail. His goal is to open a path for people leaving jail to step immediately into the local restaurant industry with training and a reference — him. 

We wrote about the program in October, after he graduated his second cohort. Antwon also talks about the program, and the issues he sees in the local culinary community, on the latest episode of In My Humble Opinion’s podcast.

Credit: Ézé Amos/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Listen: With 500 restaurants in a 10-mile radius, Charlottesville chef Atwon Brinson says there has to be a better way to staff them

One final note, we’re hiring! Charlottesville Tomorrow is seeking a part time administrative assistant. Know someone who might be interested? Send them our way!

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Thanks for reading,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.