Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office
Jan. 28, 2021
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — An international criminal justice organization has selected Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl S. Leonard to receive one of its top awards for his innovative approach to inmate rehabilitation.
The Academy of Criminal Justice Services (ACJS) will be awarding its Leadership and Innovation Award to Leonard during a virtual ceremony in April.
Leonard was nominated by Dr. Amy K. Cook, chair of the Criminal Justice Program at VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, who worked directly with the Sheriff during an 18-month evaluation VCU was conducting on the jail’s heroin recovery program – witnessing firsthand his approach to rehabilitation at the Chesterfield County Jail. He is one of only two people in the state to be presented with an award from the organization this year.
Founded in 1963, the ACJS promotes international criminal justice education, research, and policy analysis within the discipline of criminal justice for both educators and law enforcement officials.
“I am very honored and humbled to have been named by the Academy of Criminal Justice Services as the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Leadership and Innovation Award,” Leonard said. “This award validates everything we are doing at the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office and is a testament to the great men and women who carry out our missions every day.”
Leonard has garnered state and national acclaim for his approach to rehabilitation of Chesterfield County inmates, which includes the creation of the J2J Program (Jail to Jobs), which has resulted in many inmates leaving jail finding gainful employment, creating a robust community re-entry system, and creating the Helping Addicts Recover Progressively (HARP) formerly known as the Heroin Addiction Recovery Program.
Launched in 2016, HARP is a two-phase program which has already helped over 1,000 people addicted to opioids and other drugs gain the tools, skills, and abilities to address the underlying issues that led them to using drugs. The program aims to change their behavior and learn new approaches to coping other than a continued life of criminal behavior. It was expanded to female inmates in 2018 and has been credited with helping hundreds of inmates integrate into the workforce and become productive members of society.
Leonard has been Sheriff of Chesterfield County since he was first elected in 2014. He has held a long career in public service and law enforcement, which includes 30 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. Prior to serving as Sheriff, Leonard achieved the rank of Major with the Chesterfield County Police Department, where he also served for 30 years.
“I have faithfully served for over 38 years now,” Leonard said. “However, by no means does the award mean we have reached our vision. It just reassures us we are on the right path and it will push me to continue to look for innovative ways to improve mission delivery while remaining focused on professionalism and continually improving the criminal justice system.”