Good for the taxpayer, good for the environment. The Roanoke School Board has approved a $16.8 million plan that will generate $1.3 million in annual energy savings by replacing HVAC units, retrofitting lighting with LED fixtures and implementing other energy-efficiency measures. If the projected savings don’t materialize, energy-services contractor Trane will pay the difference, reports the Roanoke Times. The savings of $2.7 million over 15 years is modest, but it is extremely low risk.
Frankly, this is the type of project that schools, local government, state agencies, and universities across the state should be looking at. Upgrading HVAC and lighting systems is extremely common among commercial real estate companies because it makes economic and financial sense. I suggested years ago that the Commonwealth should issue bonds to fund in projects just like this, billing it as an efficiency and environmental initiative. What’s holding us back from rehabbing government buildings everywhere?
Speedy tickets for speeding tickets. Virginia State Police have inaugurated a two-year trial run in Northern Virginia of an electronic summons system that digitizes the ticket-writing process. Since June, troopers have seen average traffic-stop times drop from 26 minutes using the old paper-form system to 10 minutes per ticket, reports the Virginia Mercury. Rolling out the system statewide could require a new $5 fee for all state-police traffic and criminal cases. But digitization could save money by getting troopers back on the road quicker and reduce congestion caused by rubbernecking drivers. Assuming he values his time at more than $20 an hour, even the guy getting the ticket is better off. What’s not to like?
Tough love addiction rehab for inmates. Virginia’s Department of Corrections administers the nation’s largest treatment-oriented prison in the country, the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake. More than 1,000 offenders reside in the “Therapeutic Community” that combines time in prison with programs that treat substance abuse.
At the heart of the treatment program is a “brother’s keeper” approach in which inmates hold each other accountable for prison rules. The idea is to teach individual responsibility and accountability. “Although overall figures aren’t tracked,” writes Dave Ress with the Daily Press, “the recidivism rate for sub-set of offenders, about a quarter of Indian Creek’s population, who are sent there directly by a judge’s order is 26%. That’s not quite half the national rate.”
There’s a reason Virginia has one of the lowest rates of prison recidivism of any state in the country, and it’s because of programs like this.
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