The Western Virginia Regional Jail was built to alleviate the overcrowded and potentially unsafe conditions in the local jails of the four localities that formed the Western Virginia Regional Jail Authority in 2005. The local jails were operating at two to three times their rated capacities.
The decision to build a regional jail rather than expand or renovate the local jails was based in part on the state’s funding mechanism which reimburses up to 50 percent of the cost of a regional jail but only 25 percent of the cost of a local jail. In addition, the local jails were situated in such a way as to make it difficult to successfully renovate or expand them.
The Authority received an exemption from the state moratorium on new jail construction and, after holding a series of community meetings to introduce the project to the public, a 43-acre tract of land was purchased in the Dixie Caverns area of Roanoke County, and ground was broken on the regional jail project in February 2007.
The Superintendent and his transition team began work in January 2008 after undergoing training provided by the National Institute of Corrections. The transition team was responsible for all the necessary tasks that needed to be completed from construction details and security measures to hiring personnel and contracting the medical and food services.
The Western Virginia Regional Jail was formally dedicated on March 6, 2009, in a ceremony attended by state and local dignitaries and members of the public. The Jail received its first inmates on April 9, 2009.
Over 200 people are employed at the Western Virginia Regional Jail. This workforce is comprised of corrections officers, civilians, and contract workers who provide food, medical, and commissary services.
The Jail’s corrections officers are required to complete over 500 hours of basic training and orientation in their first year of employment plus 40 hours of annual training required by the American Correctional Association and 24 hours of in-service training required every other year to maintain certification through the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The Jail holds both male and female inmates for its four member agencies, federal and state responsible inmates, and contract inmates for other localities. The Jail’s inmate population varies from day to day, but the daily population averages 702.
The National Institute of Corrections Inmate Behavioral Management Program is currently in use at the Jail. This program uses rewards and incentives to encourage good behavior and creates a better living environment for the inmates and a less stressful work environment for staff.
The Jail’s medical section provides a comprehensive range of medical, dental, and mental health services in house that meet Virginia Department of Corrections and American Correctional Association standards. Providing services within the facility improves the cost ratio of treatments and eliminates the security risks that result when inmates are taken outside the facility for treatment.
Technology is used extensively throughout the Jail’s operation to increase security and efficiency. Technology also plays an important role in many of the Jail’s environmental features.
Accreditations and Certifications
American Correctional Association (ACA) Accredited—August 2011. The Jail was awarded national accreditation just two years after opening. The ACA auditors found the Jail 100 percent compliant on all applicable standards during the accreditation audit, and the Jail was awarded a perfect score. To maintain accreditation, the Jail must undergo a reaccreditation audit every three years.
Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) Accredited—May 2010. The Virginia Board of Corrections auditors found the Jail 100 percent compliant during its initial Department of Corrections audit. To maintain DOC accreditation, the Jail must undergo an annual accreditation inspection annually.
LEED® Certified—April 2010. The Jail is the first correctional facility in Virginia to receive LEED® certification and one of the first in the United States.
Interesting Facts and Statistics
The Western Virginia Regional Jail Authority which oversees the operation of the Jail is composed of the counties of Franklin, Montgomery, and Roanoke and the city of Salem. The members of the Authority Board serve one-year terms and can serve multiple terms. They are not compensated for their time.
The facility covers 6 acres (approximately 265,000 square feet) and has a rated capacity of 605 inmates. Due to an increase in population, additional beds were added to expand the bed count to 805 general population beds.
The Western Virginia Regional Jail was designed to accommodate the current and future inmate populations of its four member jurisdictions well into the future. The facility can be expanded to hold an additional 649 inmates. The program and service areas of the facility were sized to accommodate future expansion needs so that no additional construction in these areas should be necessary.
To provide an appropriate living environment for offenders and a healthy working environment for staff, the Western Virginia Regional Jail is a tobacco-free environment.