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Inmate Programs

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Inmate Programs

Major Programmatic Emphasis: The Roanoke City Jail maintains structured rehabilitative and treatment programs for all inmates requesting participation, including general education, substance abuse, individual and group counseling, religious, recreation, work and educational release programs. All of the programs are available to all inmates regardless of sex, race, origin, religion, political views, disabilities or legal status.

Citizen Involvement and Volunteer Services: It is the policy of the Roanoke City Jail to use volunteers to enhance and expand the services and programs offered to the inmates. The jail's volunteer program encourages increased personal contact for the inmate, broadens community resources for the jail and increases public awareness of the functions and responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office. Volunteers are used effectively in such program areas as education, religious activities, and specialized programs such as substance abuse. Volunteer services provide superior services in an economical way and fosters community support. The jail's rehabilitation counselor is responsible for the recruiting, orientation and training of all volunteers. The jail's security staff is responsible for transporting inmates to and from programs and providing security for the inmates and volunteers when programs are in session.

Classification Program: The jail's classification section is responsible for the classification of those inmates housed in the Roanoke City Jail to ensure proper housing and custody is maintained during the inmates' period of incarceration. The primary goals of classification are the proper housing and custody assignment of inmates to ensure inmate, staff and public safety and to facilitate appropriate treatment and program participation while maintaining compliance with "Minimum Standards for Local Jails and Lockups," National Commission of Correction Health Care and American Correctional Association Standards. All inmates are afforded equal protection against personal abuse, corporal punishment, personal injury, disease, property damage and harassment. Each inmate committed shall be afforded freedom from discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap or political beliefs. Security permitting, all inmates will have equal access to the jail's various programs and work assignments and involvement in decisions concerning their classification status. All jails, regardless of size, are required to deal with widely diverse elements of society. Armed robbers to exhibitionists...murderers to check bouncers - persons with vastly differing criminal backgrounds, emotional makeup, needs, skills and educational levels are forced into the same jail population, requiring equally differing security, custody and treatment approaches. Classification, or the evaluative process by which housing decisions are made, is the primary management tool to aid in providing appropriate responses to this widely diverse inmate population. Classification determines the degree of supervision required to control each inmate to ensure the security of the institution and the safety of the community. Overall, a properly functioning classification system has been found to provide the basis for the effective management of inmates in a safe, secure correctional environment, while also ensuring their equitable, humane treatment. Classification is an ongoing process reoccurring as needed during the inmate's incarceration. The classification section is staffed by three full time members including a supervisor.


Educational Program: The Roanoke City Jail's educational program is available to all inmates housed in the jail and is supported by a Rehabilitation Counselor, one full time and one part time teacher and community agencies and volunteers. Funding for the part time teacher is provided by funds from the Adult Education Act (revised by Public Law 100-297). All inmates are tested

prior to enrollment in the program. Due to low educational levels of the majority of the inmates, the program objectives are basic adult education, learning to read and write as well as obtaining a G.E.D. The jail provides a classroom, educational computers and related equipment, program rooms, materials, supplies and support as needed. Inmates are taught in a classroom setting, with those in need of individual help assigned tutors.
Qualified community volunteers from the First Baptist Church, St. Gerald's Catholic Social Action Committee, Hollins University and Roanoke College serve as tutors to assist the inmates with their educational studies and instruction. The Rehabilitation Counselor is responsible for the coordinating and scheduling of all educational activities and the placement of inmates in the program.

Special Education: In 1991, the adopted federal legislation and passed House Joint Resolution 367 sponsored by Delegate Clifton A. Woodrum. This law requires local jails to provide special educational services to inmates to the age of 22. The Roanoke City Sheriff's Office has worked closely with local school administrators to implement plans to comply with federal special education requirements. Presently, the Roanoke City Jail is working cooperatively with the Roanoke City Public Schools to provide services to eligible inmates. A full-time special education teacher provides instruction to the inmates. The usual procedure in providing educational services begins with an inmate's committal. A classification officer gathers information concerning the inmate's past education history. If the inmate is age 22 or less, does not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and is in need of services, he/she will be interviewed further to determine requirements. The teacher then obtains any records pertaining to the process of determining eligibility. Information is shared with other facilities to which the inmate may be transferred to avoid any duplication of services.

Hearing Impaired Programs: Oftentimes, due to the inability to communicate verbally, the incarceration of a deaf or hearing impaired person could be a frustrating and trying experience for both the prisoner and staff members. Adequate and proper communication is a vital element during the initial booking process and health appraisal to ensure proper documentation of the inmate's health conditions prior to or during the inmate's incarceration in jail. Communication is also an important element in ensuring the proper classification of the inmate and properly advising him/her of the programs and services offered by the jail. With these considerations in mind, the Roanoke City Jail provides a Hearing Impaired program, including the use of certified interpreters. A list of sign language interpreters is provided by the Virginia Council for the Deaf and interpreters may be contacted as necessary to assist the inmate during his/her incarceration or during participation in the various jail programs. The jail also provides a telecommunication device for hearing impaired inmates. This unit is used in conjunction with a telephone to enable a hearing impaired person to communicate with other persons or agencies in the community. The hearing impaired program is supplemented by various state agencies, community resources and religious groups. We are fortunate to have two of these devices at the Roanoke City Jail to serve the needs of the hearing impaired population.

Inmate Work Programs: The Roanoke City Jail maintains an inmate work program, which includes daily maintenance of the jail, housekeeping, laundry, painting, canteen operations, public service and food service operations. The principal value of trustee programs is in the opportunities they provide for the development and/or reviving of skills and work habits instrumental in the inmate's successful occupational adjustment in the community. The various routine cleaning and other housekeeping chores must be performed by inmates on a day-to-day basis to maintain the jail, but some intramural work assignments, i.e. food service, painting, laundry or other duties, offer inmates the opportunities to receive a form of vocational training. These vocational training opportunities may provide the inmate with the necessary skills to obtain similar jobs in the free society.

Laundry Services: The Roanoke City Jail provides adequate staff, space, equipment and supply of inmate clothing for the operation of an efficient and effective laundry program. The program is designed to constantly meet the needs and demands of the inmate population. The laundry program is supervised by a full time staff member and is supplemented by inmate workers. The program is operated in accordance with the "Minimum Standards For Local Jails and Lockups" as adopted by the Board of Corrections and in accordance with existing state and local laws. Clothing and linens are transported to inmates in their housing areas where they are exchanged. Inmates are held accountable for all clothing issued.



Library Program: The jail has a full time librarian responsible for ensuring all inmates are given an opportunity to participate in the library program. The jail has a library from which the inmates may check out educational, religious, fiction, non-fiction and magazines, while providing access to legal reference and standard reference books. The library program also has access to materials from the Roanoke City Library System and the Roanoke Bar Association Law Library. The library program

provides a typewriter and supplies, allowing for legal research conducted at the inmate's request. Inmates housed on the second and third floors are escorted to the library and those inmates housed on the fourth floor are serviced by a mobile library cart operated by the librarian. Security permitting, legal research is available to all inmates housed within the jail.

Medical Program: Under contract with the City of Roanoke, Conmed Healthcare Management (Conmed) provides health care for inmates. This is a joint effort by and the Sheriff and Conmed, requiring mutual trust and cooperation. Essentially, the jail physician arranges for the availability of health care services and the Sheriff provides support for accessibility of health services to inmates. Health care services provided to inmates is the sum of all action taken (preventive and therapeutic) to provide for the physical and mental well-being of the inmate population.
All matters of medical (including psychiatric) and dental judgment is the sole province of the Jail Physician, serving as the health authority for the jail and making all final medical judgments. The jail physician is registered and licensed to practice medicine and dispense drugs in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is responsible for providing and supervising all health care services for inmates. It is the policy of the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office to provide adequate space and equipment as determined by the Sheriff and the jail physician. The medical section is staffed by 24 medical personnel including a part time jail physician, part time psychiatrist, part time dentist, medical supervisor and assistant, registered nurses, licensed professional nurses, dental assistants, a secretary and records clerk. Nurses are assigned to the jail 24 hours a day. It is the goal of the Roanoke City Jail to provide a safe and humane environment to ensure inmates receive adequate medical services in accordance with "Minimum Standards For Local Jails and Lockups," the National Commission on Correctional Health Care standards, and the American Correctional Association standards, as well as state and local laws. Adequate medical and dental services can increase inmate moral while reducing jail disturbances and civil actions filed by inmates. Inmate medical complaints are addressed during routine medical rounds in the jail. All medical complaints not addressed by the medical staff on routine rounds are brought to the medical department for follow up and disposition on a daily basis. The medical program provides for various on-site diagnostic testing. The jail physician visits the jail five times weekly to treat those inmates requiring attention. These inmates are placed on the physician's referral list by the medical staff. There are occasions when an inmate must be referred by the jail physician or medical staff to community health care providers - i.e., hospitals, dentist offices, health centers, clinics, etc. for medical treatment. The jail's transportation section assists the medical program by providing security and transportation to these facilities. The Jail's Medical Section is one of the few facilities in this part of the country to be accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. The Roanoke City Jail operates a Medical Co-Payment Program under the authority of the Code of Virginia. Inmates pay a co-payment for various medical services such as dental visits, sick call, jail/other doctor visits and prescription handling fees. However, medical care is never refused to an inmate because of inability to pay. These co-payments are utilized as a source to off-set the rising costs of medical care.

Pre-Release Program: It is the policy of the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office to provide a program for those inmates being released from the jail to enhance their chances for successful reintegration into the community. This program allows inmates to request information concerning available programs, services and assistance in the community following their release. Information includes, but is not limited to, the following areas: 1) alcohol and substance abuse treatment; 2) housing, food, and clothing; 3) transportation; 4) financial aid; 5) handicap or mental retardation services; 6) medical services and care; 7) religious programs; 8) education; 9) legal advice; and 10) offender programs. The Classification Section informs inmates of the availability of this informational program during the classification orientation and it is also available in the Inmate Handbook. Inmates in need of individual services may submit an Inmate Request Slip to the rehabilitation counselor seeking information or assistance concerning special needs upon release. The rehabilitation counselor and jail Chaplain will assist the inmate in determining his/her individual needs and provide the appropriate referrals to the inmate.

M.I.L.K. Program: Through a cooperative effort with the Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Roanoke City Jail established the first M.I.L.K. (Mothers Inside Loving their Kids) Program. This 10-week parenting class' goal is to have inmates stay emotionally and physically connected with their children, learn to be responsible parents and create a support system to see them through crisis before and after release from incarceration. They are taught basics of child development, child abuse prevention, communication and the development of a healthy trusting parent/child relationship.

Assistance Provided for Other Agencies: The Roanoke City Jail provides space, assistance and services to other agencies to prepare inmates for release. The services include, but are not limited to, the following:

Department of Corrections (D.O.C.): The records section works closely with the D.O.C. to provide updated information of jail credits and the jail adjustment records of inmates. This section also makes recommendations to the administration of good time awards for state felons confined in local jails. The Records Section assists the D.O.C. in obtaining a release plan from the inmate and provides the inmate a copy of all documents regarding the inmate's release date. The Sheriff's Office provides space, equipment, security and assistance to the institutional parole officer during his/her visits with inmates at the jail.

Probation and Parole: The Sheriff's Office provides space, security and assistance to probation officers during individual inmate interviews and probation/parole hearings. Upon request, the Office of Probation and Parole is provided appropriate assistance and information regarding inmate jail adjustment records and program participation for background investigations conducted for pre-sentence hearings.

Community Diversion Programs: The Sheriff's Office provides information, space, security and assistance for the administration of court-ordered community diversion programs.<p>

Recreation Programs: The jail's recreation program includes active, structured recreation, such as basketball, volleyball, weight lifting, etc. The recreation program is supervised by two full-time staff recreation officers responsible for ensuring all inmates are afforded recreational activities. There is a gymnasium, weight room, and outdoor recreational area in both the main jail and the jail annex to accommodate each of these populations. Each inmate housing area has a pod dayroom equipped with tables, chairs, television, phones and various table games. The inmates are allowed to participate in exercises such as running in place and set ups and push ups in the pod dayrooms. Inmates have continuous access to the dayrooms each
day from 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Out of cell recreation is provided five times a week to those inmates housed in segregation cells without access to a pod area.

Religious Programs: It is the policy of the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office to provide space, equipment, clerical support and supplies, as approved by the Sheriff, adequate for the administration of religious programming within the jail. The Roanoke Valley Minister's Conference provides the Roanoke City Jail with 2 ministers designated as the jail chaplains who, with the assistance of the jail rehabilitation counselor, coordinate all religious programming and provide training for religious volunteers. The chaplains have the qualifications of a clinical pastoral education and administer to every inmate regardless of the inmate's religious beliefs or affiliation. Inmates are afforded the right to participate in the practices of their religious faith, limited only by documentation the practice is a threat to the order, safety or security of the jail and persons within. Special religious diets are available upon written request. When an inmate's faith is not represented through the jail chaplains or volunteers, the rehabilitation counselor will attempt to contact a minister of the inmate's faith. The person contacted shall have the appropriate credentials from the faith judicatory and may minister to the inmate in accordance with existing policy and procedures. Various community volunteers representing ten church and other religious organizations, including Islamic Instruction, participate in religious programming. Individual counseling services are available from the jail rehabilitation counselor, the jail chaplain, 25 ministers from community churches, volunteers from the Prison Fellowship and other community incarceration programs. <p>


Substance Abuse: The Roanoke City jail is one of the few facilities in this part of the country to provide medical services accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Services and American Correctional Association. The jail's medical section is ultimately responsible for inmate health care within the facility. Correctional Medical Services has procedures in place to deal with those individuals with needs for detoxification, drug withdrawal or other medical services relating to substance abuse. At several points during incarceration, the inmate has an opportunity to indicate the need for substance abuse services: at intake during incarceration, during the classification interview prior to being assigned to the main housing area of the jail, during the medical health assessment and at any point as the result of an inmate request. All inmate requests and medical referrals for substance abuse services are received by the jail's rehabilitation counselor who screens each request to determine the appropriateness for placement in available programs. To enhance the jail's substance abuse services, there are two therapeutic housing areas operated within the jail (one male and one female). The therapeutic living area provides a 120-day program of intensive treatment during incarceration under the supervision of trained mental health professionals. For most of the unit's participants, it is their first treatment experience after a long history of addiction. The Therapeutic Housing Areas were initiated under the guidance of Sheriff Alvin Hudson with the assistance of Blue Ridge Community Services (now Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare). The unit was named "Alpha" by the first 12 inmates who began the treatment program. The therapeutic operation of the unit is provided by qualified counselors from Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and other community volunteers, without cost or obligation to taxpayers. The therapeutic housing area's objectives, in addition to providing a means to break the drug and alcohol addiction cycle, include linking released inmates with outside drug and alcohol programs; identifying the needs of inmates committed to state facilities for further drug and alcohol addiction programming; and providing inmates with "survival skills" to help them keep a drug-free life when released. The therapeutic community uses an Alcoholics Anonymous approach, combined with writing of autobiographies, to help inmates identify how their lives became involved with drug and alcohol; group sessions with peers and mental health professionals aimed at exploring the threats to a drug free life; and professional counseling. Each therapeutic community consists of 12 participants. The female program is unique - it has three levels of evolution to accommodate inmates participating in weekly programs and also sharing living space. This approach was taken out of a need for space.

Current Services:

Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, 301 Elm Avenue, S.W. Roanoke, VA, currently provides the following services to the inmates at the Roanoke City Jail:
  • Emergency Medical Health Services: Screening for hospitalization for inmates meeting commitment criteria is provided on site
  • Individual Visitation: Inmates active in the substance abuse outpatient program and requesting services, may be seen by staff in the New Directions program
  • Substance Abuse Counseling: Individual and group substance abuse counseling plus counseling services for the jail's therapeutic community is conducted by a mental health professional
  • Project LINK: Project LINK is a prevention and treatment group available to pregnant women and those with a history of substance abuse (alcohol, drugs and/or tobacco) during pregnancy, with small children. The project assists in accessing services and providing biweekly group sessions
  • Community Resource Education: Information is provided to inmates whose substance abuse problems may need additional resources for treatment in the community once released.

Individual and group counseling in both alcohol and other forms of substance abuse are conducted in the jail. The counseling sessions are conducted in the jail by the Alcohol Anonymous Central Committee Outreach Program Division from the Alcohol Anonymous Central Committee, Roanoke, Virginia, and Narcotics Anonymous.

Work/Study Release Program: 53.1-131 of the Code of Virginia provides the Roanoke City Jail with the authority to administer a Work/Study Release Program. This program establishes an incentive for active participation in a rehabilitation program to ease reintegration into the community. Inmates are allowed to keep and maintain a job while providing financial support for himself/herself and dependents. Allowing inmates the opportunity to benefit from self worth motivates them to change attitudes which originally brought the inmate into conflict with the laws of society. The jail's work release coordinator is responsible for the administration of this program, which is operated out of the first floor dormitory.