The state of Virginia has only one type of short-term confinement facility for offenders; these are called jails. There are seventy-one county jails in Virginia. They hold pretrial detainees along with people who are in holding cells and short-term inmates who were sentenced by the courts for committing petty crimes and misdemeanors.
Local county jails are owned and operated by the county or city where they reside. The local county Sheriff’s Office is the law enforcement agency that manages the facilities, supervises inmates, and maintains all Virginia county jail inmate records. They make it very easy to perform a Virginia county jail inmate search through their offender locator on their website or roster listing of all current residents.
Each county jails offer slightly different programs and services to inmates, but most offer education (including degree programs), life-skills training, medical and dental services, counseling, substance abuse treatment, recreation, and a library where inmates can borrow books to read.
The oldest jail in Virginia dates back to 1608 in Jamestown. The Fauquier County jail is the oldest still standing jail in Virginia, and it was built in 1808. It sits beside the Fauquier County Courthouse. The jail now acts as a museum for local patrons and visitors. This jail operated for more than 15 years until it fell into disrepair, and they built a new jail in the town of Warrenton. In 1966 the Fauquier Historical Society took it over and turned it into a museum.
Modern jails are quite different. For example, the Western Virginia Regional Jail serves multiple counties (Franklin, Montgomery, Roanoke, and the city of Salem). It is a large facility with 805 beds. It sits on six areas and covers 265,000 square feet. The entire facility is tobacco-free. It runs on a staff of 200 employees, and each one is required to complete 40 hours of annual training each year. The jail is very high-tech with automated systems and surveillance cameras. They offer inmates educational studies along with medical treatments.
There are approximately 23,000 people in local jails in Virginia. The most common reason someone is put in jail in Virginia is larceny-theft, then assault, burglary, and then drugs. Fraud, vandalism, and weapons violations are also top reasons people are put in jail in Virginia. Roughly 60% of the inmates in jail are Black, 36.2% are White, and 2.3% are Hispanic.