Crime and courts

Va. DOC reopening of correctional facilities to the public

The Virginia Department of Corrections reported this week that it began reopening its facilities to the public on July 15 and will enter another important phase of reopening on Sept. 1, when families will be able to visit inmates in 10 facilities across the state.


On July 15, all state correctional facilities opened to attorneys and court officials, embassy and consulate officials, and other official visitors. On Aug. 1, all facilities were opened to religious visitors and volunteers.


On Sept. 1, the VADOC will open 10 pilot sites for in-person family visitation. The Department anticipates that in-person family visitation will be resumed at all VADOC facilities statewide by Oct. 1.


Pilot sites opening as of Sept. 1 for family visitation are St. Brides Correctional Center, Greensville Correctional Center, Sussex II State Prison, Caroline Correctional Unit, Buckingham Correctional Center, Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, Nottoway Work Center, Green Rock Correctional Center, Keen Mountain Correctional Center, and Patrick Henry Correctional Unit.


As the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads, the VADOC continues to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidance for congregate settings. Safety is of the utmost importance, and sanitation measures will continue to be followed as family visitation restarts, including cleaning between visitors/visitor groups. Currently, there is one active COVID-19 case among incarcerated individuals and 32 cases among VADOC staff.


Visitors age 12 and over are required to take a self-administered (or guardian-administered) COVID-19 rapid antigen test and must receive a negative test result in order to visit an inmate or Community Corrections Alternative Program (CCAP) probationer in person.


Because correctional facilities are congregate settings, masks are required. Inmates and CCAP probationers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are eligible to meet with members of the public in person. Video visits continue to be available to unvaccinated inmates. Virginia DOC staff have set up thousands of video visits and meetings for inmates during the pandemic.


Information regarding the testing process and visitation requirements, including an online scheduling system, will be available on the VADOC website before family visitation resumes.


Currently, about 75% of VADOC inmates/CCAP probationers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 62.4% are fully vaccinated. These percentages fluctuate as the inmate population changes; inmates and CCAP probationers who are released from VADOC correctional facilities are no longer counted amongst the vaccinated population, and new individuals enter the system on a regular basis.


While prevention efforts at facilities continue to be very successful, the spread of COVID-19 variants and community vaccination rates are considerations that will continue to be monitored.


The VADOC’s public health and safety responsibilities extend to the department’s probation and parole offices as well as administrative offices. The VADOC currently supervises more than 66,000 people on community supervision. Precautions will continue to support employees, probationers/parolees, contractors, and representatives of government and other partner agencies. Community conditions and consistent screening and testing practices continue to be essential.


The VADOC continues to vaccinate all staff and inmates who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and to test staff and inmates for COVID-19.


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