Virginia Department of Corrections preparing for summer heat

Virginia Department of Corrections preparing for summer heat
The Virginia Department of Corrections is making preparations ahead of the expected summer heat. (Source: WLOX)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Corrections is making preparations ahead of the expected summer heat.

Currently, 75 percent of the state’s 29,000 inmates are housed in facilities with air conditioning. For the remaining 25 percent, VADOC says it uses a number of techniques to keep staff and inmates comfortable when temperatures rise.

“This includes installing additional fans and providing offenders with extra ice and water to help them remain hydrated. Early this spring, the VADOC Agribusiness Unit began filling water pouches that are frozen and distributed to inmates. The offenders also have access to ice machines,” VADOC said.

VADOC has also started using misting fans in recent years and has ordered additional ones for this year.

“These facilities were not originally constructed with air conditioning nor were they designed to have the accommodation installed without undergoing major reconstruction,” said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. “We recognize this is an issue of concern and we are working to address it as funding allows. Over the past several years, we have completed construction projects that have included the installation of air conditioning in several of the department’s older facilities.”

Construction and renovations of adding air conditioning at Central Virginia Correctional Unit, the State Farm Correctional Center’s school building, the Virginia Correctional Center for Women and the Keen Mountain Correctional Center have been completed. Renovations for air conditioning have been funded and are in the planning and procurement phase at Marion Correctional Treatment Center.

VADOC plans to monitor the availability of capital improvement funds in SFY2021-2022 in hopes of addressing heat-related renovations at other facilities.

“These projects are important to us and we will continue to work toward additional installations whenever feasible. In the short term, we will work to make the housing units as comfortable as possible for offenders and staff, as we have done in the past,” Clarke said.

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