Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 53.1. Prisons and Other Methods of Correction
Chapter 1. Administration Generally
11/26/2020

Chapter 1. Administration Generally.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 53.1-1. Definitions.

As used in this title, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" or "State Board" means the State Board of Local and Regional Jails.

"Community correctional facility" means any group home, halfway house or other physically unrestricting facility used for the housing, treatment or care of adult offenders established or operated with funds appropriated to the Department of Corrections from the state treasury and maintained or operated by any political subdivision, combination of political subdivisions or privately operated agency within the Commonwealth.

"Community supervision" means probation, parole, postrelease supervision, programs authorized under the Comprehensive Community Corrections Act for local responsible offenders, and programs authorized under Article 7 (§ 53.1-128 et seq.) of Chapter 3.

"Correctional officer" means a duly sworn employee of the Department of Corrections whose normal duties relate to maintaining immediate control, supervision and custody of prisoners confined in any state correctional facility.

"Department" means the Department of Corrections.

"Deputy sheriff" means a duly sworn officer appointed by a sheriff pursuant to § 15.2-1603 whose normal duties include, but are not limited to, maintaining immediate control, supervision and custody of prisoners confined in any local correctional facility and may include those duties of a jail officer.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Corrections.

"Jail officer" means a duly sworn employee of a local correctional facility, except for deputy sheriffs, whose normal duties relate to maintaining immediate control, supervision and custody of prisoners confined in any local correctional facility. This definition in no way limits any authority otherwise granted to a duly sworn deputy sheriff whose duties may include those of a jail officer.

"Local correctional facility" means any jail, jail farm or other place used for the detention or incarceration of adult offenders, excluding a lock-up, which is owned, maintained or operated by any political subdivision or combination of political subdivisions of the Commonwealth.

"Lock-up" means a facility whose primary use is to detain persons for a short period of time as determined by the Board.

"State correctional facility" means any correctional center or correctional field unit used for the incarceration of adult offenders established and operated by the Department of Corrections, or operated under contract pursuant to § 53.1-262. This term shall include "penitentiary" whenever used in this title or other titles of the Code.

Code 1950, §§ 53-9, 53-19.5, 53-19.18, 53-19.18:1, 53-19.23; 1966, c. 300; 1970, c. 648; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1976, cc. 740, 756; 1977, c. 187; 1981, c. 487; 1982, c. 636; 1983, c. 477; 1991, c. 383; 1995, c. 224; 1999, c. 845; 2000, c. 807; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-1.01. Certified mail; subsequent mail or notices may be sent by regular mail.

Whenever in this title the Board or the Department is required to send any mail or notice by certified mail and such mail or notice is sent certified mail, return receipt requested, then any subsequent, identical mail or notice that is sent by the Board or the Department may be sent by regular mail.

2011, c. 566.

§ 53.1-1.1. Telephone systems within correctional facilities.

The Department of Corrections shall offer debit or prepaid telephone systems, in addition to any existing collect calling systems, which allow telephone calls to be placed to the telephone number or numbers on an approved call list. Such telephone systems may be established with the lowest available rates.

2005, c. 612.

§ 53.1-1.2. Visitation policies.

The following procedures regarding individuals who are physically present at a state correctional facility for the purpose of visiting a prisoner shall apply:

1. Upon entry into a state correctional facility, visitors shall be informed of the items that they are not permitted to bring into the facility and the items that they are permitted to bring into the facility.

2. If an item that is otherwise legal for the visitor to possess is not permitted in the facility, the item may be placed in the possession of facility employees, if the facility is able to store such item, for the duration of the visit and returned to the visitor upon leaving the facility.

3. If equipment is available, visitors shall be scanned or wanded by an electronic scanning or detection device, or both.

4. If detector canines are available, visitors shall be subjected to a detector canine search.

5. If the detector canine search, scanning, or wanding does not indicate any contraband and the visitor is otherwise eligible to visit, the visitor shall be allowed a visit with the prisoner that allows personal contact.

6. If the detector canine search, scanning, or wanding indicates the possibility of contraband, the visitor shall have the option of consenting to a search of his person. If the visitor does not consent to a search of his person after only a detector canine search indicates the possibility of contraband and the visitor is otherwise eligible to visit, he shall be allowed a visit with the prisoner that does not allow personal contact. If the visitor does not consent to a search of his person after scanning or wanding indicates the possibility of contraband, the Department may deny the visitor entry into the facility in accordance with the operating procedures regarding visiting privileges as authorized by § 53.1-30.

7. A visitor shall be allowed to leave the correctional facility and discontinue the search process prior to the discovery of contraband. A visitor shall not be barred from future visits because he stops a search prior to the discovery of contraband or refuses to consent to a search of his person, including refusing to consent to a strip search or a search of any body cavity. Correctional facility personnel shall not use the search procedure or search results as a threat to bar future visits. The superintendent, warden, or other official in charge of the facility shall ensure that correctional facility personnel do not use the search procedure or search results as a threat to bar future visits.

2020, c. 1170.

Article 2. State Board of Local and Regional Jails.

§ 53.1-2. Appointment of members; qualifications; terms and vacancies.

There shall be a State Board of Local and Regional Jails, which shall consist of nine residents of the Commonwealth appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. In making appointments the Governor shall endeavor to select appointees of such qualifications and experience that the membership of the Board shall include persons suitably qualified to consider and act upon the various matters under the Board's jurisdiction. Members of the Board shall be appointed as follows: (i) one former sheriff or one former warden, superintendent, administrator, or operations manager of a state or local correctional facility; (ii) one individual employed by a public mental health services agency with training in or clinical, managerial, or other relevant experience working with individuals subject to the criminal justice system who have mental illness; (iii) one individual with experience overseeing a correctional facility's or mental health facility's compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations; (iv) one physician licensed in the Commonwealth; (v) one individual with experience in administering educational or vocational programs in state or local correctional facilities; (vi) one individual with experience in financial management or performing audit investigations; (vii) one citizen member who represents community interests; and (viii) two individuals with experience in conducting criminal, civil, or death investigations.

Members of the Board shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and shall be appointed for terms of four years. A vacancy other than by expiration of term shall be filled by the Governor for the unexpired term.

No person shall be eligible to serve more than two full consecutive four-year terms.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.23, 53-19.24; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1981, c. 487; 1982, c. 636; 2017, c. 759; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-3. Persons ineligible for appointment.

No director, officer or employee of an institution subject to the provisions of this title shall be appointed a member of the Board.

Code 1950, § 53-19.32; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-4. Meetings; quorum; officers; main office.

The Board shall meet at least six times each calendar year and at other times as it deems appropriate. Five members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. The Board shall select a chairman and secretary from its membership. The main office of the Board shall be in Richmond.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.25, 53-19.29, 53-19.30, 53-19.31; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-5. Powers and duties of Board.

The Board shall have the following powers and duties:

1. To develop and establish operational and fiscal standards governing the operation of local, regional, and community correctional facilities;

2. To advise the Governor and Director on matters relating to corrections;

3. To make, adopt and promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this title and other laws of the Commonwealth pertaining to local, regional, and community correctional facilities;

4. To ensure the development of programs to educate citizens and elicit public support for the activities of the Department;

5. To develop and implement policies and procedures for the review of the death of any inmate that the Board determines warrants review that occurs in any local, regional, or community correctional facility. Such policies and procedures shall incorporate the Board's authority under § 53.1-6 to ensure the production of evidence necessary to conduct a thorough review of any such death;

6. To establish minimum standards for health care services, including medical, dental, pharmaceutical, and behavioral health services, in local, regional, and community correctional facilities and procedures for enforcing such minimum standards, with the advice of and guidance from the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and State Health Commissioner or their designees. Such minimum standards shall require that each local, regional, and community correctional facility submit a standardized quarterly continuous quality improvement report documenting the delivery of health care services, along with any improvements made to those services, to the Board. The Board shall make such reports available to the public on its website. The Board may determine that any local, regional, or community correctional facility that is accredited by the American Correctional Association or National Commission on Correctional Health Care meets such minimum standards solely on the basis of such facility's accreditation status; however, without exception, the requirement that each local, regional, and community correctional facility submit a standardized quarterly continuous quality improvement report to the Board shall be a mandatory minimum standard; and

7. To report annually on or before December 1 to the General Assembly and the Governor on the results of the inspections and audits of local, regional, or community correctional facilities conducted pursuant to § 53.1-68 and the reviews of the deaths of inmates that occur in any local, regional, or community correctional facility conducted pursuant to § 53.1-69.1. The report shall include (i) a summary of the results of such inspections, audits, and reviews, including any trends identified by such inspections, audits, and reviews and the frequency of violations of each standard established for local, regional, or community correctional facilities, and (ii) any recommendations for changes to the standards established for local, regional, or community correctional facilities or the policies and procedures for conducting reviews of the death of inmates to improve the operations, safety, and security of local, regional, or community correctional facilities.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.33, 53-19.34, 53-19.39; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1976, c. 249; 1982, c. 636; 1984, c. 720; 2011, c. 375; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2015, c. 293; 2017, c. 759; 2019, cc. 695, 696; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-5.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2020, c. 759, cl. 2.

§ 53.1-5.2. Compilation of certain data for redistricting purposes.

A. The Board shall direct the sheriffs of all local jails and the jail superintendents of all regional jails to provide to it, no later than May 1 of any year in which the decennial census is taken, information regarding each person incarcerated in a local or regional jail on April 1 of that year. Such information shall include, for each person incarcerated, (i) his residential street address at the time of incarceration, or other legal residence, if known; (ii) his race, his ethnicity as identified by him, and whether he is 18 years of age or older; and (iii) the street address of the correctional facility in which he was incarcerated on April 1 of that year. Upon receipt of such information, the Board shall assign to each person a unique identifier, other than his name or offender identification number.

B. Pursuant to § 24.2-314, the Board shall provide to the Division of Legislative Services, not later than July 1 of any year in which the decennial census is taken and in a format specified by the Division of Legislative Services, the information specified in subsection A, including the Board-assigned unique identifier.

2020, cc. 1229, 1265.

§ 53.1-6. Board may administer oaths, conduct hearings, and issue subpoenas.

The Board, in the exercise and performance of its functions, duties, and powers under the provisions of this title, is authorized to hold and conduct hearings, issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and the production of records, memoranda, papers, and other documents, administer oaths, and take testimony thereunder.

When a review is ordered by the Board concerning any correctional facility subject to the Board's jurisdiction or concerning the conduct of persons connected therewith, the chairman of the Board, by order of the Board, may issue a summons directed to the sheriff of the county or city in which such institution is located commanding him to summon any person to be present on a certain day at such place within such county or city as may be designated by the Board to give evidence before the Board. The Board shall have like powers to issue a summons directed to the sheriff and to direct the sheriff to enforce such summons.

The chairman of the Board shall make the entry required of the clerk by § 17.1-612 concerning the amount any witness is to be paid as if the attendance of the witness was before a court. The sum to which the witness is entitled shall be paid out of the funds appropriated to the Board.

Code 1950, § 53-19.36; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-6.1. Executive director; staff; compensation.

The Board may appoint and employ an executive director and such other persons as it deems necessary to assist it in carrying out its duties. The Board may determine the duties of such staff and fix their salaries or compensation within the amounts appropriate therefor. The duties of the executive director shall include management of (i) inspections and audits of local, regional, or community correctional facilities conducted pursuant to § 53.1-68 and (ii) reviews of the deaths of inmates that occur in any local, regional, or community correctional facility conducted pursuant to § 53.1-69.1.

2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-7. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, c. 375, cl. 2.

Article 3. Department of Corrections and Director of Corrections.

§ 53.1-8. Department of Corrections.

There shall be in the executive department a Department of Corrections responsible to the Governor. The Department shall be under the supervision and management of the Director.

Code 1950, § 53-19.5; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-9. Appointment of Director; term.

A Director of Corrections shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by each house of the General Assembly.

The Director shall be appointed for a term coincident with that of the Governor and shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as original appointments are made.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.6, 53-19.7; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-10. Powers and duties of Director.

The Director shall be the chief executive officer of the Department and shall have the following duties and powers:

1. To supervise and manage the Department and its system of state correctional facilities;

2. To implement the standards and goals of the Board as formulated for local and community correctional programs and facilities and lock-ups;

3. To employ such personnel and develop and implement such programs as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this title, subject to Chapter 29 (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.) of Title 2.2, and within the limits of appropriations made therefor by the General Assembly;

4. To establish and maintain a general system of schools for persons committed to the institutions and community-based programs for adults as set forth in § 53.1-67.9. Such system shall include, as applicable, elementary, secondary, postsecondary, career and technical education, adult, and special education schools.

a. The Director shall employ a Superintendent who will oversee the operation of educational and vocational programs in all institutions and community-based programs for adults as set forth in § 53.1-67.9 operated by the Department. The Department shall be designated as a local education agency (LEA) but shall not be eligible to receive state funds appropriated for direct aid to public education.

b. When the Department employs a teacher licensed by the Board of Education to provide instruction in the schools of the correctional centers, the Department of Human Resource Management shall establish salary schedules for the teachers which endeavor to be competitive with those in effect for the school division in which the correctional center is located.

c. The Superintendent shall develop a functional literacy program for inmates testing below a selected grade level, which shall be at least at the twelfth grade level. The program shall include guidelines for implementation and test administration, participation requirements, criteria for satisfactory completion, and a strategic plan for encouraging enrollment at an institution of higher education or an accredited vocational training program or other accredited continuing education program.

d. For the purposes of this section, the term "functional literacy" shall mean those educational skills necessary to function independently in society, including, but not limited to, reading, writing, comprehension, and arithmetic computation.

e. In evaluating a prisoner's educational needs and abilities pursuant to § 53.1-32.1, the Superintendent shall create a system for identifying prisoners with learning disabilities.

5. a. To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the Department's duties and the execution of its powers under this title, including, but not limited to, contracts with the United States, other states, and agencies and governmental subdivisions of this Commonwealth, and contracts with corporations, partnerships, or individuals which include, but are not limited to, the purchase of water or wastewater treatment services or both as necessary for the expansion or construction of correctional facilities;

b. Notwithstanding the Director's discretion to make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the Department's duties and the execution of its powers under this title, upon determining that it shall be desirable to contract with a public or private entity for the provision of community-based residential services pursuant to Chapter 5 (§ 53.1-177 et seq.), the Director shall notify the local governing body of the jurisdiction in which the facility is to be located of the proposal and of the facility's proposed location and provide notice, where requested, to the chief law-enforcement officer for such locality when an offender is placed in the facility at issue;

c. Notwithstanding the Director's discretion to make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of the Department's duties and the execution of its powers under this title, upon determining that it is necessary to transport Virginia prisoners through or to another state and for other states to transport their prisoners within the Commonwealth, the Director may execute reciprocal agreements with other states' corrections agencies governing such transports that shall include provisions allowing each state to retain authority over its prisoners while in the other state.

6. To accept, hold and enjoy gifts, donations and bequests on behalf of the Department from the United States government and agencies and instrumentalities thereof, and any other source, subject to the approval of the Governor. To these ends, the Director shall have the power to comply with such conditions and execute such agreements as may be necessary, convenient or desirable;

7. To collect data pertaining to the demographic characteristics of adults, and juveniles who are adjudicated as adults, incarcerated in state correctional institutions, including, but not limited to, the race or ethnicity, age, and gender of such persons, whether they are a member of a criminal gang, and the types of and extent to which health-related problems are prevalent among such persons. Beginning July 1, 1997, such data shall be collected, tabulated quarterly, and reported by the Director to the Governor and the General Assembly at each regular session of the General Assembly thereafter. The report shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports;

8. To make application to the appropriate state and federal entities so as to provide any prisoner who is committed to the custody of the state a Department of Motor Vehicles approved identification card that would expire 90 days from issuance, a copy of his birth certificate if such person was born in the Commonwealth, and a social security card from the Social Security Administration;

9. To forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all identified criminal gang members incarcerated in state correctional institutions. The list shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member, as well as his criminal record;

10. To give notice, to the attorney for the Commonwealth prosecuting a defendant for an offense that occurred in a state correctional facility, of that defendant's known gang membership. The notice shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member as well as his criminal record;

11. To designate employees of the Department with internal investigations authority to have the same power as a sheriff or a law-enforcement officer in the investigation of allegations of criminal behavior affecting the operations of the Department. Such employees shall be subject to any minimum training standards established by the Department of Criminal Justice Services under § 9.1-102 for law-enforcement officers prior to exercising any law-enforcement power granted under this subdivision. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant the Department any authority over the operation and security of local jails not specified in any other provision of law. The Department shall investigate allegations of criminal behavior in accordance with a written agreement entered into with the Department of State Police. The Department shall not investigate any action falling within the authority vested in the Office of the State Inspector General pursuant to Chapter 3.2 (§ 2.2-307 et seq.) of Title 2.2 unless specifically authorized by the Office of the State Inspector General;

12. To prescribe and enforce rules prohibiting the possession of obscene materials, as defined in Article 5 (§ 18.2-372 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 18.2, by prisoners incarcerated in state correctional facilities;

13. To develop and administer a survey of each correctional officer, as defined in § 53.1-1, who resigns, is terminated, or is transitioned to a position other than correctional officer for the purpose of evaluating employment conditions and factors that contribute to or impede the retention of correctional officers;

14. To promulgate regulations pursuant to the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) to effectuate the provisions of Chapter 5.1 (§ 32.1-162.16 et seq.) of Title 32.1 for human research, as defined in § 32.1-162.16, to be conducted or authorized by the Department. The regulations shall require the human research committee to submit to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Director or his designee at least annually a report on the human research projects reviewed and approved by the committee and shall require the committee to report any significant deviations from the proposals as approved; and

15. To provide, pursuant to § 24.2-314, to the Division of Legislative Services, not later than July 1 of any year in which the decennial census is taken and in a format specified by the Division of Legislative Services, information regarding each person incarcerated in a state correctional facility on April 1 of that year. Such information shall include, for each person incarcerated, (i) a unique identifier, other than his name or offender identification number, assigned by the Director; (ii) his residential street address at the time of incarceration, or other legal residence, if known; (iii) his race, his ethnicity as identified by him, and whether he is 18 years of age or older; and (iv) the street address of the correctional facility in which he was incarcerated on April 1 of that year.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.8, 53-19.14; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636; 1994, 2nd Sp. Sess., c. 7; 1995, c. 725; 1997, c. 894; 2003, cc. 94, 516, 854; 2006, cc. 431, 500; 2007, c. 392; 2009, cc. 39, 621; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2013, cc. 143, 214; 2014, c. 84; 2015, cc. 99, 293; 2016, c. 205; 2019, c. 618; 2020, cc. 759, 1229, 1265.

§ 53.1-11. Bond of Director.

The Director shall give bond with corporate surety in such penalty as may be fixed by the Governor, conditioned upon faithful discharge of his duties. The premium on such bond shall be paid for as other expenses of the Department are paid.

Code 1950, § 53-19.10; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-12. Divisions of Department; division heads.

The Director shall establish in the Department such divisions and regional offices as may be necessary and shall appoint heads of these divisions and offices in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 29 (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.) of Title 2.2.

Code 1950, §§ 53-19.11, 53-19.12; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1978, c. 555; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-13. Bonds of agents and employees.

Proper bonds shall be required of all agents and employees who handle any funds which come into custody of the Department. The premiums on the bonds shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Department.

Code 1950, § 53-19.16; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-14. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1984, c. 734.

§ 53.1-15. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2020, c. 759, cl. 2.

§ 53.1-16. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 798 and 871, cl. 2, effective July 1, 2012.

§ 53.1-17. Defense of Department of Corrections employees.

If any employee of the Department shall be brought before any regulatory or administrative body, summoned before any regular or special grand jury, or, arrested, indicted, or prosecuted on any charge arising out of any act committed in the discharge of his official duties, the Director may, with the approval of the Governor, pay in whole or in part, counsel employed by such employee to represent him, provided he is neither convicted nor terminated from his employment. Such compensation shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Department.

Code 1950, §§ 53-16.1, 53-19.19; 1958, c. 542; 1970, c. 648; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1976, c. 517; 1982, c. 636; 1989, c. 298.

§ 53.1-17.1. Continuous quality improvement committee; report.

A. The Director shall establish a health care continuous quality improvement committee, which shall be composed of the Director, or his designee, and at least one of each of the following: a health services director, physician, nurse, dentist, mental health director, pharmacist, psychiatrist, specialist in infection control, and grievance counselor employed by the Department. The committee shall (i) identify appropriate criteria for evaluation of the quality of health care services provided by the Department, (ii) monitor and evaluate the quality of health care services provided by the Department utilizing the criteria identified, and (iii) develop strategies to improve the quality of health care services provided by the Department.

B. Beginning July 1, 2020, the committee established pursuant to subsection A shall publish quarterly continuous quality improvement reports setting forth such data and information as the committee shall deem appropriate on a website maintained by the Department. Each facility shall submit quarterly continuous quality improvement reports containing such data and information as may be required by the committee at such times as may be required by the committee, for inclusion in the committee's quarterly continuous quality improvement report.

2019, cc. 320, 463.