Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 53.1. Prisons and Other Methods of Correction
Chapter 2. State Correctional Facilities
12/3/2022

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 53.1-18. Department to have custody of property; right to sue to protect property.

The Department shall have custody of both the real and personal property of state correctional facilities. The Department is authorized to institute and prosecute in the name of the Commonwealth any suit or proceeding to protect the rights of the Commonwealth in such property.

Code 1950, § 53-20; 1970, c. 648; 1982, c. 636; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-19. Establishment of correctional institutions.

The Director shall determine the necessity for and select the site of any new state correctional facility and any land to be taken or purchased by the Commonwealth for the purposes of any new or existing state correctional facility. The Director shall have charge of the construction of any new building at any state correctional facility, shall determine the design thereof, and for this purpose may employ architects and other experts or hold competitions for plans and designs. On or after January 1, 1996, at least ninety days in advance of the issuance of requests for proposals for construction, notice shall be given by the Director to the chairman of the board of supervisors or mayor of a county, city or town in which the facility is to be established or expanded for the purpose of the confinement of inmates. In addition, if the local governing body in the jurisdiction where the facility is to be located so requests, upon receipt of such request, the Department shall hold a public hearing in that jurisdiction. The Director may, if he finds it practical and economical, use persons sentenced to the Department as laborers in the construction of such structures.

If land or property is taken or purchased by the Department, title shall be taken in the name of the Commonwealth. The original names of all state correctional facilities shall be designated by the Department and approved by the Governor.

Code 1950, § 53-76.1; 1970, c. 648; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1976, c. 393; 1982, c. 636; 1995, c. 846; 1996, c. 234; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-20. Commitment of convicted persons to custody of Director.

A. Every person convicted of a felony committed before January 1, 1995, and sentenced to the Department for a total period of more than two years shall be committed by the court to the custody of the Director of the Department. The Director shall receive all such persons into the state corrections system within sixty days of the date on which the final sentencing order is mailed by certified letter or sent by electronic transmission to the Director by the clerk.

B. Persons convicted of felonies committed on or after January 1, 1995, and sentenced to the Department or sentenced to confinement in jail for a year or more shall be placed in the custody of the Department and received by the Director into the state corrections system within sixty days of the date on which the final sentencing order is mailed by certified letter or sent by electronic transmission to the Director by the clerk.

C. If the Governor finds that the number of prisoners in state facilities poses a threat to public safety, it shall be within the discretion of the Director to determine the priority for receiving prisoners into the state corrections system from local correctional facilities.

D. All felons sentenced to a period of incarceration and not placed in an adult state correctional facility pursuant to this section shall serve their sentences in local correctional facilities which shall not include a secure facility or detention home as defined in § 16.1-228.

E. Felons committed to the custody of the Department for a new felony offense shall be received by the Director into the state corrections system in accordance with the provisions of this section without any delay for resolution of (i) issues of alleged parole violations set for hearing before the Parole Board or (ii) any other pending parole-related administrative matter.

F. After accounting for safety, security, and operational factors, the Director shall place prisoners who are known primary caretakers of minor children in a facility as close as possible to such children.

Code 1950, §§ 19-270, 19.1-296, 53-21.1; 1960, c. 366; 1966, c. 522; 1970, cc. 67, 648; 1972, c. 145; 1973, c. 330; 1974, cc. 44, 45, 506; 1981, c. 529; 1982, c. 636; 1990, cc. 676, 768; 1993, c. 502; 1994, cc. 128, 859, 949; 1994, 2nd Sp. Sess., cc. 1, 2; 1997, c. 840; 2020, c. 526.

§ 53.1-20.1. Compensation of local jails for cost of incarceration.

If the Director is unable to accommodate in a state correctional facility any convicted felon sentenced to the Department for a felony committed before January 1, 1995, whose sentence totals more than two years or who is convicted of a felony committed on or after January 1, 1995, and who is required to serve a total period of one year or more in a state correctional facility, the Department of Corrections shall compensate local jails for the cost of incarceration as provided for in the general appropriation act beginning on the sixty-first day following the date of mailing by certified letter or electronic transmittal by the clerk of the committing court to the Director of the final order.

1982, c. 680; 1990, cc. 676, 768; 1994, 2nd Sp. Sess., cc. 1, 2; 1997, c. 775.

§ 53.1-21. Transfer of prisoners into and between state and local correctional facilities.

A. Any person who (i) is accused or convicted of an offense (a) in violation of any county, city, or town ordinance within the Commonwealth, (b) against the laws of the Commonwealth, or (c) against the laws of any other state or country or (ii) is a witness held in any case in which the Commonwealth is a party and who is confined in a state or local correctional facility may be transferred by the Director, subject to the provisions of § 53.1-20, to any other state or local correctional facility which he may designate.

B. The following limitations shall apply to the transfer of persons into the custody of the Department:

1. No person convicted of violating § 20-61 shall be committed or transferred to the custody of the Department.

2. No person who is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony and receives a jail sentence of 12 months or less shall be committed or transferred to the custody of the Department without the consent of the Director.

3. Beginning July 1, 1991, and subject to the provisions of § 53.1-20, no person, whether convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, shall be transferred to the custody of the Department when the combined length of all sentences to be served totals two years or less, without the consent of the Director.

Code 1950, §§ 19.2-310.1, 53-19.17, 53-84, 53-103, 53-135.1; Code 1950, § 53-8; 1952, c. 557; 1960, c. 432; 1962, c. 326; 1968, c. 357; 1970, c. 648; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 110; 1972, c. 573; 1973, cc. 330, 342; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1976, cc. 287, 462; 1982, c. 636; 1990, cc. 676, 768; 1999, cc. 945, 987; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 463.

§ 53.1-22. Misdemeanant suspected of having contagious disease.

Whenever any court shall have reason to believe that a person convicted by it of a misdemeanor who is sentenced to serve time in a local correctional facility is afflicted with any contagious or infectious disease dangerous to the public health, the court shall have such person examined by a licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner. If the examination reveals the person is afflicted with such disease, the court may commit the person directly to the Department.

Code 1950, § 53-89; 1970, c. 648; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636; 2004, c. 855.

§ 53.1-23. Fingerprints, photographs and description.

A. Photographs, fingerprints, and a description of each person received by the Department shall be taken and filed for identification purposes. If the person is serving a sentence for an offense for which a report to the Central Criminal Records Exchange is required under subsection A of § 19.2-390, such photographs, fingerprints, and description of such person received by the Department shall be provided to the Central Criminal Records Exchange and, unless otherwise prohibited by law, may be classified and filed as part of the criminal history record information of that person. Subject to the provisions of §§ 19.2-387 through 19.2-392, the Department shall cooperate with federal, state, county, and city law-enforcement agencies, insofar as it may deem proper, in disclosing information concerning such persons and in the taking of fingerprints and photographs of persons charged with the commission of an offense for which a report to the Central Criminal Records Exchange is required under subsection A of § 19.2-390.

B. The Department shall review each person's criminal history record at least 60 days prior to his scheduled release from a state correctional facility to determine whether all offenses for which that person has been committed appear on such record and, if any such offense that is required to be reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange pursuant to § 19.2-390 does not appear, (i) take and provide fingerprints and a photograph of the person to the Central Criminal Records Exchange to be classified and filed as part of the criminal history record information pursuant to subsection D of § 19.2-390 and (ii) provide written or electronic notification to the Central Criminal Records Exchange within the Department of State Police that such offense does not appear on the offender's criminal history record.

Code 1950, § 53-40; 1970, c. 648; 1982, c. 636; 2019, cc. 782, 783.

§ 53.1-23.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1990, c. 669.

§ 53.1-23.2. Department to give notice of the receipt of certain prisoners.

A. At the time of receipt of any prisoner for whom registration with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is required pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1, the Department shall obtain from that person all necessary registration information, including fingerprints and photographs of a type and kind approved by the Department of State Police. A person required to register shall register and submit to be photographed as part of the registration. The Department shall forthwith forward the registration information and photograph to the Department of State Police on the date of the receipt of the prisoner.

B. Whenever a person required to register has failed to comply with the provisions of subsection A, the Department shall promptly investigate or request the State Police promptly investigate and, if there is probable cause to believe a violation has occurred, obtain a warrant or assist in obtaining an indictment charging a violation of § 18.2-472.1 in the jurisdiction in which the person was received. The Department shall notify the State Police forthwith of such actions taken pursuant to this section.

2006, cc. 857, 914.

§ 53.1-24. Record of convictions and register to be kept.

The Director shall file and preserve a copy of the judgment furnished by the clerk of the court of conviction of each prisoner and keep a register describing the term of his confinement, for what offense, and when received into a state correctional facility. The Director may dispose of these records with the consent of The Library of Virginia in accordance with retention regulations for records maintained by the Department established under the Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-76 et seq.).

Code 1950, § 53-24; 1982, c. 636; 1994, c. 64; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-25. Director to prescribe rules; rules to be available to prisoners.

The Director may prescribe rules for the preservation of state property and the health of prisoners in state correctional facilities and for the government thereof. Printed copies of all such rules shall be made available to prisoners under such terms and conditions as the Director may prescribe.

Code 1950, § 53-23; 1970, c. 648; 1977, c. 354; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-25.1. Rules of state correctional facilities.

A. The Director shall prescribe rules for state correctional facilities to ensure that when physical contact is required between an officer and an inmate and when the inmate is required by circumstances to disrobe, to the greatest extent possible, the officer shall be the same gender as the inmate. However, such rules may allow for the suspension of the provisions of this subsection during the period of a declared emergency.

B. When contact is required between an officer and an inmate and when the inmate is required by circumstances to disrobe and the officer is not the same gender as the inmate, the officer involved shall submit a written report to the warden or other official in charge of the state correctional facility within 72 hours following the incident, containing the justification for the suspension of the provisions of subsection A.

2000, c. 807; 2020, c. 526.

§ 53.1-26. Confiscation of prohibited articles.

Any item of personal property which a prisoner in any state correctional facility is prohibited from possessing by the Code of Virginia or by the rules of the Director shall, when found in the possession of a prisoner, be confiscated and sold or destroyed as the Director may direct. Any funds from the sale of such property shall be invested and used as provided in § 53.1-44.

Code 1950, § 53-23.1; 1968, c. 222; 1982, c. 636.

§ 53.1-27. Establishment of stores in state correctional facilities.

The Director is hereby authorized to provide for the establishment and operation of stores or commissaries in state correctional facilities to deal in such articles as he deems proper. The profits from the operation of such stores shall be used for educational, recreational, pre-release and post-release reentry and transition services, or other purposes beneficial to the inmate population as may be prescribed by the Director.

Code 1950, § 53-19.9; 1974, cc. 44, 45; 1982, c. 636; 1996, cc. 28, 230; 2004, c. 417.

§ 53.1-28. Authority to fix discharge date; improper release; warrant, arrest and hearing.

For the purpose of scheduling and providing a uniform, effective and continual program of pre-release training and conditioning of prisoners, the Director shall have authority to discharge any prisoner within the Virginia penal system on any day within a period of 30 days prior to the date upon which such prisoner's term would normally expire. The Director shall provide each prisoner with the following documents upon discharge: (i) verification of the prisoner's work history while in custody; (ii) certification of all educational and treatment programs completed by the prisoner while in custody; and (iii) a copy of his medical records, so long as such prisoner requests a copy of his records at least 60 days prior to the date upon which the prisoner's term would expire. The Department shall develop procedures wherein the records are to be made available to the prisoner in a safe and secure manner.

The Director or his designee upon the discovery of an improper release or discharge of a prisoner from custody shall report such release or discharge to the circuit court of the jurisdiction wherein the prisoner was released or discharged. The circuit court shall then issue a warrant for the arrest of the prisoner which may be executed by any duly sworn correctional officer or law-enforcement officer. Such warrant shall direct that the prisoner be presented forthwith to the court to determine the propriety of the original discharge or release. After a hearing, if the court is satisfied that the release or discharge was made improperly, the prisoner shall be returned to the state correctional facility from which he was released or discharged, or to any other correctional facility designated by the Director to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Code 1950, § 53-37; 1964, c. 140; 1968, c. 303; 1982, c. 636; 2006, cc. 108, 132.

§ 53.1-29. Authority for correctional officers and other employees to carry weapons.

It shall be lawful for any correctional officer and any noncustodial employee who has been designated by the Director of the Department, and who has completed the basic course in firearms for correctional officers as approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, to carry and use sufficient weapons to prevent escapes, suppress rebellion, and defend or protect himself or others in the course of his assigned duties.

Code 1950, § 53-39; 1970, c. 648; 1979, c. 642; 1982, c. 636; 1984, c. 720; 1996, cc. 804, 838.

§ 53.1-30. Who may enter interior of state correctional facilities; searches of those entering.

A. The Governor and members of the General Assembly may go into the interior of any state correctional facility. Attorneys shall be permitted in the interior of a state correctional facility to confer with prisoners who are their clients and with prisoners who are witnesses in cases in which they are involved. The Director shall prescribe the time and conditions on which attorneys and other persons may enter any state correctional facility.

B. The Department shall promulgate a policy to assist a person who was a victim of a crime committed by an offender incarcerated in any state correctional facility to visit with such offender. Such policy may include provisions necessary to preserve the safety and security of those at such visit and the good order of the facility, including consideration of the offender's security level, crime committed, and institutional behavior of the offender. The Department shall make whatever arrangements are necessary to effectuate such a visit. This subsection shall not apply to juvenile victims.

C. Any person seeking to enter the interior of any state correctional facility shall be subject to a search of his person and effects, as provided in § 53.1-1.2. Such search shall be performed in a manner reasonable under the circumstances and may be a condition precedent to entering a correctional facility. However, no child under the age of 18 shall be strip searched or subjected to a search of any body cavity under any circumstances.

D. The Department may not permanently ban any person, or insinuate that any person will be permanently banned, from seeking entrance to a state correctional facility on the basis of such person's refusal to consent to a strip search or a search of any body cavity when such person is seeking to enter the interior of any state correctional facility. If a person refuses to consent to a strip search or a search of any body cavity when such person is seeking to enter the interior of any state correctional facility, the Department may deny such person entry to the facility, unless otherwise provided by law, but may not deny such person any future entry on the basis of a prior refusal to consent.

Code 1950, § 53-60.1; 1970, c. 648; 1978, c. 306; 1982, c. 636; 2010, c. 844; 2020, cc. 759, 1170, 1181.

§ 53.1-31. Sale or lease of gas, oil, or minerals.

The Director is empowered to make and execute contracts, easements and leases in the name of the Commonwealth for the removal or mining of gas, oil or any valuable minerals that may be found in any real estate, title of which is vested in the Department, whenever it appears to the Department that it will be in the best interest of the Commonwealth to make such disposition of such gas, oil or minerals. Before a contract, easement or lease is made, the same shall be approved by the Governor, and any contract, easement or lease shall be approved as to form by the Attorney General.

Bids therefor shall be received after notice by publication once a week for four successive weeks in at least two newspapers of general circulation. The Director shall have the right to reject any or all bids and to readvertise for bids. The accepted bidder shall give bond with good and sufficient surety to the satisfaction of the Director and in such amount as he may fix for the faithful performance of all the conditions and covenants of such contract, easement or lease.

Each such contract, easement or lease may be for a period not exceeding five years, may include the right to renew the same for an additional period not exceeding five years each and shall specify the rent royalties and other terms deemed expedient and proper. Such contracts, easements and leases may, in addition to any other rights, authorize the grantees and lessees to prospect for and take from the real estate oil, gas and such other minerals as are therein specified. No such contract, easement or lease shall in any way affect or interfere with the orderly operation of any state correctional facility. All rents or royalties collected from such contracts, easements or leases shall be paid into the state treasury to the credit of the general fund.

Code 1950, § 53-19.38:1; 1978, c. 474; 1982, c. 636; 1984, c. 734; 1989, c. 733; 2020, c. 759.

§ 53.1-31.1. Transportation of prisoners.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department shall provide all transportation to and from court for any prisoner in connection with a crime committed within a state correctional facility, or a facility operated pursuant to the Corrections Private Management Act (§ 53.1-261 et seq.), unless the affected sheriff and the Department agree on other transportation. Auxiliary police forces established under § 15.2-1731 who have met the training requirements of § 9.1-102, with the concurrence of the sheriff or other chief law-enforcement officer as appropriate, are specifically authorized to provide such transportation.

B. Authorized corrections personnel from any other state, the United States, and any political subdivisions thereof who transport a prisoner through the Commonwealth, deliver a prisoner to the Commonwealth, or take custody of a prisoner in the Commonwealth for transport to another jurisdiction are deemed to have lawful custody of such prisoner while in the Commonwealth.

C. Authorized Virginia corrections personnel who have a need to travel with a prisoner through or to another state are authorized to travel through such state and retain authority over such prisoner as allowed by such state.

2002, c. 240; 2003, c. 154; 2012, c. 827; 2015, c. 99.

§ 53.1-31.2. Notification of child support due by a prisoner.

The Department of Corrections shall cooperate with the Division of Child Support Enforcement to provide at regular intervals, but at least annually, a list of persons incarcerated. Upon receipt of such list, the Division shall identify those prisoners who are the subject of a court or administrative order requiring them to pay child support and the amount of each prisoner's obligation. The Division shall then inform the Department of the prisoners owing child support payments and the Department may inform the prisoner upon his reentry the amount of his arrearage.

2008, c. 763.

§ 53.1-31.3. Notification of incarcerated individuals ineligible for public assistance.

The Department shall, at regular intervals but at least monthly, provide the Department of Social Services with a list of all individuals committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections during the preceding month, to facilitate identification of prisoners who were receiving public assistance benefits prior to commitment to the custody of the Department and who may, as a result of their incarceration, be ineligible to receive such benefits.

2013, c. 218.

§ 53.1-31.4. Department of Corrections-issued identification.

Prior to the release or discharge of any prisoner who has been confined for at least 90 days and does not possess a government-issued identification card, birth certificate, and Social Security card, the Department shall provide the assistance necessary for such prisoner to apply for and obtain such identification and documents prior to his release or discharge, provided that the Department has or can readily obtain all records and information necessary for their issuance. If the prisoner is unable to obtain a government-issued identification card prior to his release or discharge, the Department shall provide the prisoner with a Department of Corrections Offender Identification form. If the Department receives a government-issued identification card, birth certificate, or Social Security card for a prisoner after his release or discharge, the Department shall forward such identification or document to the prisoner. Unless the prisoner is determined to be indigent pursuant to § 19.2-159, all costs and fees associated with applying for and obtaining any identification or documents pursuant to this section shall be paid by the prisoner.

2020, cc. 484, 523.