U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.


Readout of Office of Justice Programs Leadership Visit to Turbeville Correctional Institution

AAG Amy L. Solomon Turbeville Correctional Institution
Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon speaks during a tour of the CORE housing unit at the Turbeville Correctional Institution.

Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon and Nancy La Vigne, Director of the National Institute of Justice, this week joined state correctional leaders and staff and representatives of the Vera Institute of Justice and the MILPA Collective for a tour of the Community Opportunity Restoration Enhancement, or CORE, housing unit at the Turbeville Correctional Institution in South Carolina.

Assistant Attorney General Solomon and Director La Vigne were on hand to meet with corrections officers and individuals held in the CORE unit, which was established in 2018 and designed based on Vera’s Restoring Promise model. Restoring Promise focuses on creating safer and more humane conditions for the people living and working in correctional facilities. During their visit, Solomon and La Vigne highlighted findings from an NIJ-funded study that found significant reductions in violence among the young adults housed in the unit and greater professional satisfaction among the officers who manage it.

“What we saw at Turbeville is powerful validation of an approach that centers on the dignity of everyone in the corrections system,” said Assistant Attorney General Solomon. “We were inspired by the young men who are working hard to change the trajectory of their lives and moved by the dedication of their mentors, many of whom may never leave the prison system but who have nonetheless dedicated themselves to creating a brighter future for those who will. We were no less impressed by the leaders and professionals of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, whose commitment to creating a culture of support and opportunity was on full display.”

Developed by Vera and MILPA in partnership with corrections staff and incarcerated people, Restoring Promise units connect young adults with older mentors who are serving lengthy, sometimes life, sentences. Restoring Promise supports workshops focused on life skills, financial literacy, conflict mediation and healthy connections to family, all in an effort to prepare young people for a successful transition out of prison. Restoring Promise efforts, which now operate in South Carolina and five other states, rely on the active involvement of correctional officers in the design, planning and management of the facilities.

The three-year randomized control trial funded by NIJ found that those who participated in Restoring Promise were 71% less likely to be convicted of a violent infraction during their time in prison. Officers assigned to the CORE unit also reported lower stress and greater quality of worklife: 88% felt less stress working in the unit, 89% reported an improved quality of life and 91% felt that they had grown professionally. NIJ and OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance recently released complementary grant solicitations, totaling $7 million, that will further support jurisdictions in testing and expanding new strategies aimed at transforming prison climate and culture.

NIJ Director Nancy La Vigne Turbeville Correctional Institution
National Institute of Justice Director Nancy La Vigne during the visit to the CORE unit.

“The findings from this study demonstrate that correctional facilities that prioritize fairness, dignity and respect are safer, more supportive for the people who live there and more rewarding for those who work there,” said Director La Vigne. “The National Institute of Justice will continue its robust investments in research on the transformation of corrections cultures and climates in the interests of building upon this groundbreaking and very auspicious start.”

Solomon and La Vigne were joined in their visit by Bryan Stirling, Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections; Kenneth Sharp, Warden of the Turbeville Correctional Institution; and officials from Vera and MILPA. CORE is one of two Restoring Promise models in South Carolina. A second program, the Cadre of Helping Other People Evolve, or HOPE, unit opened at the Lee Correctional Institute in March 2019, a year after eight people lost their lives in a tragedy at the facility.

Turbeville Correctional Institution
Message written on a blackboard above the room of a CORE participant.

About the Office of Justice Programs

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation's capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law.

More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.


OFFICE: ojp.gov
OFFICE: bja.ojp.gov
CONTACT: OJP Media at [email protected]

Date Published: June 23, 2023