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Virginia Department of Corrections — Public Safety First

Institutions Overview

The DOC protects the public by managing prison facilities in a manner which:

The prison system offers a range of programs and services to more than 30,000 state prisoners that support the effective operation of facilities by constructively occupying otherwise idle inmate time and reducing unrest. Programs also provide those inmates who choose to change criminal behaviors with meaningful opportunities for positive growth.

Prison programs are aligned within the Department so that inmates with long sentences or behavior problems (those housed in maximum or close custody prisons) receive programs that promote positive prison adjustment. Those inmates nearing release (those housed in medium or minimum custody facilities) receive programs aimed at reducing recidivism.

Treatment Planning

Upon reception into the prison system, inmates receive a battery of tests and/or interviews to identify their security and treatment programming needs. Based on these needs, the inmate's counselor develops a written Treatment Plan outlining programs that are needed by the inmate. An inmate's progress towards meeting his/her Treatment Plan goals is evaluated and documented once per year, with the plan updated as needed.

Core Programs

Inmate Work Activities
Substance Abuse Treatment
Mental Health Services (at major institutions)
Life Skills Programming

Substance Abuse Programming

Approximately 80% of the Department's inmates have a history of substance abuse that contributed to their criminality. The Department offers intensive substance abuse treatment to 1,200 inmates in Therapeutic Community (TC) programs located at six prisons throughout the State. TC programs are highly structured rigorous programs that confront inmates' substance abuse and criminal behavior.

Indian Creek Correctional Center operates the largest secure TC program in the nation and has recently been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a learning laboratory for other states to visit. A smaller TC program operated at Botetourt Correctional Center has also received recognition as a national model program.

Research has shown that TC programs reduce recidivism rates to one-half the rate of non-participants, to as low as six percent when TC programming is paired with community follow-up services.

In addition to the six intensive TC programs, every prison facility offers an education program that provides basic information on the health, social, and legal consequences of substance abuse.

Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous programs are also available primarily through community volunteer participation at most facilities. Many prisons also run weekly counseling or substance abuse recovery groups.

Life Skills

A Framework for Breaking Barriers is a program that uses workbooks and video tapes to encourage inmates to set positive goals and take advantage of programming while incarcerated. During the year prior to an inmate's release from prison, a Life Skills program is made available. Life Skills is a 19 session curriculum developed by Department staff which addresses essential information inmates need to live in the community. Topics such as finding a job, keeping a job, locating a residence, budgeting, and family responsibilities are covered.

Other Programs

In addition to core programs, each prison facility offers a range of services to meet the special needs of inmates. Examples of such programs include behavior management programs, women offender programs, anger management programs, geriatric programs, victims groups, or property offenders groups.