DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Steve Barrow, the owner of Hammer Hill Computers, has a passion for helping people. When he opened his computer repair and sales shop in Danville he also began offering computer classes.
He said he quickly learned that people who were formerly incarcerated were in need of his help the most.
“The thing is we always tell people find a job, find a place to live, find this find that, but they don’t know how to find them. And the things we take for granted every day, they um, they struggle with. Google, they struggle with. A GPS they struggle with, said Barrow.”
Barrow’s passion for helping people released from jail or prison comes from his father.
“My dad was a correction officer, and my dad would always say that one of the reasons people keep going back is because they don’t have opportunities and they don’t have a reason to stay out,” said Barrow.
That’s why when the Barbados native moved from Florida to Danville two years ago he wasted no time sharing that passion with his new community.
“I feel like if we can keep the crime rate low or we can keep people from going back then that’s going to help the community in general,” said Barrow.
Barrow has been in contact with Danville City Sheriff Mike Mondul, who runs the city jail.
“Usually there’s only a small pocket of jobs that will work with former offenders, people who have been in the justice system. And I think it’s great that he’s willing to take them on and teach them a skill or employ them or help them find employment. That’s a home run for the community,” said Sheriff Mondul.
Sheriff Mondul said he’s working to refocus the jail’s re-entry program. He hired a lieutenant who will focus specifically on the program. The changes come because people are spending more time in the city jail. According to Sheriff Mondul, a change in the Department of Corrections policy allows people sentenced to less than two years to serve their time in jail and not prison.
“We’re not focusing on the murderers, rapists, robbers, they’re going to get 30 to 40 years. We’re not concerned about them in a sense of re-entry, because that’s the prison’s obligation if they re-enter our society. These are people that after a couple of years are going to be living next door to you or me,” said Sheriff Mondul.