Riverside Regional Jail History
Over the past 25 years there has been a steady increase in the inmate population in local jails and the state prison system. This dilemma was anticipated in 1985 but the extent to which it would affect Virginia's prison industry was unforseen. In 1989 the state prison population consisted of approximately 12,800 inmates, relegated not only to state penitentiaries, but to local jails as well. In that same year Virginia's Governor, Jerry Baliles, proposed to the General Assembly to form a commission to address the overcrowding issue. With the approval of the House and Senate, Carlton Bolte and J. Michael Howerton of the Department of Corrections (DOC) came together to discuss organizing a regional jail planning committee (of which Bolte would chair). Amongst other things, this meeting served to elect officers, address planning actions, site selection, and state participation. In May of 1989 the decision was made to request use of Prince George County as the site as the site for a regional jail.
In December 1989, the regional jail planning committee was composed of the following members:
The committee recomended that an independent authority composed of one member appointed by the governing bodies of each participating jurisdiction be created to construct, run, and operate the regional jail facility to meet the collective needs of the particpating jurisdictions. The Riverside Regional Jail Planning Committee was dissolved on June 21, 1990 and pursuant to Chapter 726 of the 1990 Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia, the following cities and counties (collectively the Member Jurisdictions), each adopted resolutions creating the Riverside Regional Jail Authority (RRJA):
The purpose of the RRJA was to finance, construct, and equip a regional jail facility to be located in Prince George County. Authority Board members are appointed every four years by their respective jurisdictional councils or supervisory boards. The member jurisdictions implemented their resolutions by entering into an Initial Service Agreement dated June 21, 1990, authorizing the RRJA to prepare a feasibility study and conceptual design for a regional jail facility. By Decision of Brief in May, 1991, of the Honorable Douglas L. Wilder, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 152.6 acres of land in Prince George County was transferred to the RRJA without monetary consideration. This land was conveyed to the Department of Corrections by the federal government. On November 19, 1991, the RRJA made a request to the Prince George Board of Supervisors for a "Special Exception" to allow development and operation of the regional jail on the 154 acre tract of land located off River Road in the Prince George County Bland District.
The RRJA awarded an initial contract worth more than $3.8 million to the the architectural firm of Daniel, Mann, Jonson and Mendenhall to design the first phase (Phase 1) of the jail facility. A symbolic groundbreaking took place on November 28, 1994 with members of the RRJA in attendance. Construction began in 1995 and in July 1997, the Riverside Regional Jail opened its doors for the first time. The main jail facility was built to house approximately 800 inmates, but after only 6 years in operation, experienced a consistent daily population average of over 1000 inmates. According to the Service Agreement between the member jurisdictions, if the population of the jail reached daily population average of 732 inmates for three consecutive months or more, the controlling body, subject to available financing, would pursue expansion of the facility. Rather than moving on to the original Phase II plan (600 additional beds), the RRJA decided to expand the existing Pre-Release Center by 180 beds. Mosley Architects and Kenbridge Construction were awarded the contracts to design and build the Pre-Release Center and in July 2003 the contract was amended to include the addition of a new Maintenance building.
In June of 2005, the RRJA signed a resolution to begin construction of the second phase (Phase II) of the jail facility. Mosley Architects was awarded the contract for architectural/engineering services of the 480-bed expansion. In September 2007 construction began on the jail expansion, managed by Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc® and was completed in the Spring of 2010.