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Faith & Public Policy

Lewinsville’s Faith and Public Policy Committee is partnering with Redeemer Lutheran Church of McLean and the Tysons InterFaith coalition to sponsor a series of virtual panel discussions on “Pathways Out of Poverty in Northern Virginia.”  The goal of panel discussions is to explore policies, programs, and individual actions that can help low-income and vulnerable NOVA residents improve their livelihoods.

The topic of this fourth event is “Easing Reentry for the Convicted” and it will feature the Honorable John S. Edwards, Chair of the Virginia State Crime Commission (VSCC) and member of the Senate of Virginia, representing the 21st district, Derwin Overton, the Executive Director of non-profit Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources, Inc. (OAR), which supports and helps transition offenders, and Sidney McCoy, Board President of the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking (VCAHT) and Policy Counsel with Shared Hope International’s Institute for Justice and Advocacy. The session will be moderated by Claire Dutrow, professional counselor and member of Redeemer Lutheran.

This panel session focuses on initiatives to help individuals who have served time for a minor crime and are facing barriers to accessing a range of public services due to their interaction with the justice system. Subsidized housing and employment services, for example, that are available to our neighbors facing economic challenges, are often unavailable to this group. Perhaps the most insidious example is presented by trafficked youth, who have been convicted of loitering, solicitation, or shoplifting – crimes that they were forced into by their perpetrators. Actions are being taken to reduce these barriers to escaping poverty. For example, HB 2133, provides a way for trafficking victims to have certain charges or convictions expunged from their records, while HB 2113 provides a second chance for a broader class of persons. Both were recommended by the VSCC. Civil society groups are helping to implement these and other solutions, while advocacy groups are educating leaders and proposing further changes.

This session will begin with an overview of the challenges and prospective legislative solutions by Senator John S. Edwards, the Chair of the Virginia State Crime Commission – the agency charged with studying and making recommendations across all areas of public safety and protection. Then we will then hear from Derwin Overton, Executive Director of OAR, about its services to offenders and their families to help ease reentry. Finally, Sidney McCoy will describe the efforts of VCAHT and Shared Hope International to remove barriers faced by survivors of human trafficking. The session moderator, Claire Dutrow, who has extensive experience as a substance counselor, will moderate the discussion and facilitate attendee Q&A.

More information about the Pathways …  events can be found at Pathways Out of Poverty – Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, and www.tysonsinterfaith.org  websites.

Pathways panel discussion series topics include:

  • ACCESSING AFFORDABLE HOUSING – October 2021
  • IMPROVING FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT – January 19, 2022
  • IMPROVING JOB PREPAREDNESS – March 20, 2022
  • EASING REENTRY – June 12, 2022

Note: Videos of previous events can be found at:

* (Affordable Housing) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-gMvIXqu-I  
* (Financial Empowerment) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOYKKDG2rbU&t=15s

* (Job Preparedness) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjl6xyMYmvQ