Sarah Scarbrough, 31 

Internal Program Director, Richmond Sheriff’s Office

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Scott Elmquist

Drug dealer or businessman? To Sarah Scarbrough, the answer is sometimes both. As the jail's internal program director, her goal is to help inmates redirect the intelligence and savvy they've developed on the streets toward legal endeavors.

"What businessman do you know that gets a call for their product at 3 a.m. and then is popping out the door to deliver it five minutes later?" she asks. "Not a lot of them. But drug dealers? Absolutely."

At the new city jail, Scarbrough oversees staff, develops programs and works one-on-one with inmates, who all seem to know her name and stand up and clap when she enters the room.

When the ALS ice bucket challenge started making its way across Facebook, Scarbrough developed a spin-off for inmates, recording videos in which they challenged inmates in other jails to stay sober. Scarbrough says the jail's programs don't only focus on drugs and alcohol.

"We deal with all addictive behaviors," she says. "Women, sex, money, gold, dealing drugs — we deal with all that."

Though she recently left a stint as director of the Executive Mansion under Gov. Bob McDonnell, Scarbrough's background is in criminal justice. She holds a master's degree in the field and a doctorate in public policy from Virginia Commonwealth University. And before her mansion job, she served as executive director of Great Aspirations Scholarship Program, a statewide nonprofit that helps low-income students plan their secondary education.

But Scarbrough says her calling is offender rehabilitation. She's active in the field outside of her day job at the jail, serving on the board of Kingdom Life Ministry, which operates a recovery house for recently released inmates. She also stays involved with inmates she works with after they're released. If one has a job interview, and, for example, needs a suit — she makes the calls to get one.

"If they just used the intelligence that they have and their business savvy from the streets," she says, "who knows what they can do in a legal manner?"


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