RICHMOND — The temporary locking arrangements at Sussex I and Sussex II State Prisons installed by the Virginia Department of Corrections passed a surprise inspection and were proven safe by the Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office (VSFMO) last week.
The inspection took place on March 23 and demonstrated the ability of staff at both facilities to safely use the system, remove all 44 locks in just two minutes and 16 seconds, and remove the locks without keys if necessary.
This test was part of an agreement by VADOC and the VSFMO that allows the temporary locks in response to mechanical issues with the previous system. VADOC is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation of both facilities, replacing the defunct locks with brand new state-of-the-art mechanisms.
In addition to the operation and expedited removal, the inspection also verified the status of fire alarms and sprinklers at both facilities, adequate and accessible keys for staff, regular drills in the event of a fire, the Emergency Plan for each facility, and the Department’s record-keeping. VADOC passed in every regard.
“I’m very proud of the staff at Sussex I and Sussex II State Prisons,” said Beth Cabell, Lead Warden of the Sussex complex. “We passed this test with flying colors and it’s because of their diligence and commitment to ensuring the safety of their coworkers and our inmates.”
“VADOC is a national leader in corrections operations,” explained Harold Clarke, Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections. “The temporary locks in place at Sussex I and II posed new challenges to our team, but they have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that both facilities are operating safely and effectively while our renovations are underway.”
Crews are currently working on installing new doors on the third of five housing units at Sussex I. Work will begin at Sussex II once they have finished.