Virginia officials looked to restrict Virginia’s Youth Industries job-training and apprentice program for juvenile prisoners, created by the state departments of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Correctional Education (DCE), from accepting future political jobs. The prisoners are paid $2 an hour and the services they provide and the items they make can be sold to support the program.
The concern for policy change came after Jonathan Davis, the program’s advertising and design teacher and Richmond, Virginia City Council candidate, reported receiving a $1,500 campaign contribution from Youth Industries for design and printing services in September 2008. Davis used four prisoners to print cards and signs for his campaign. “We want to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again,” said Bruce Twyman, a spokesman for the DJJ. The policy change is “just to remove that specter of doubt.”
Davis corrected his statement, however, saying the $1,500 was not a donation but the difference between what his campaign paid Youth Industries and the price a market-rate vendor would have charged. Virginia officials agreed no wrongdoing occurred. Although not disciplined or forced, Davis said he would pay $1,384 to the program for the prisoner labor in addition to $116 already incurred for materials to help clear up any doubts.
“It was a mistake in labeling,” said Twyman about the contribution. While Win Sisson, a spokesman for the DCE, could not answer why the state was accepting $1,384 from Davis, Twyman said the money could be seen as a donation even though the program covered labor costs for the job.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login