Western Virginia Regional Jail holds resource fair for inmates

SALEM, Va.- – Inmates at the Western Virginia Regional Jail are learning new skills for a second chance at a normal life. They took part in the first re-entry resource fair in our area Thursday.

Raphael McNamara is on his second stint behind bars. He's currently waiting to see a judge who will determine when can get out.

"I got in some trouble and I ended up here almost 16 months ago," McNamara said. 

In the meantime, he's preparing for life on the outside. 

"There's been a lot to do here anger management, some drug abuse treatment and changing offender behavior," McNamara said.

Out of 900 inmates, McNamara is one of 120 men and women inmates participating in the Western Virginia Regional Jail re-entry resource fair. 

There were 35 vendors helping the offenders transition into a better life after leaving jail. The resource fair gives information and hope for inmates with a court date or release date within six  to eight months. David Hollandsworth helped organize the event.

"I was really surprised at the anxiety  the offenders have a couple weeks before their release. Housing is always something very important. They're looking for employment, they're looking for something to get them over the hump," said Hollandsworth, re-entry program coordinator. 

McNamara says he's looking forward to using the resources and contacts from the fair. 

"It was a lot to take in. And I'm not sure which direction because it was a lot more possibilities then I thought," McNamara said. 

The jail hopes to do a yearly re-entry resource fair in the future.