By CN Staff
RICHMOND, Va.—The Virginia Department of Corrections is committed to ensuring the safety and security of its staff and more than 24,000 inmates. As the summer months begin, this includes annual preparations for warm weather-related conditions in the Department’s facilities.
Approximately 77 percent of the Department’s inmates and Community Corrections Alternative Program (CCAP) probationers are housed in buildings with air conditioning. The Department will implement significant steps to ensure the remaining 23 percent are provided ample heat mitigation resources, including the installation of fans, providing extra ice and water pouches, adjustments to scheduling, and the location of some activities to accommodate for high temperatures. Misting fans are also used by several facilities, as well as smoke exhaust fans to increase airflow.
All VADOC facilities constructed since 1990 have had air conditioning integrated into their design. For older facilities, which were not designed for air conditioning per the Virginia Administration Code in effect at that time, VADOC is exploring the use of temporary portable A/C units, as well as working to install long-term and permanent solutions.
In recent years, Haynesville Correctional Unit 17, Central Virginia Correctional Unit 13, and other facilities have had upgrades to ensure cooler temperatures inside facilities. The Department will soon begin work on other facilities to ensure each facility has similar cooling measures, ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for inmates and staff.
VADOC is closely monitoring the availability of capital improvement funds for the State Fiscal Year 2023-2024 and hopes to address further heat-related renovations in additional facilities over the next year and beyond. VADOC also plans to use funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to implement those renovations in facilities.
Staff will conduct temperature checks multiple times per day to ensure all VADOC facilities stay within safe ranges and that all heat mitigation equipment is functioning properly. The Department will continue to follow American Correctional Association (ACA) standards for heat mitigation and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance on ice handling and distribution.