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Red Onion State Prison: Super-Maximum Security Confinement in Virginia

NCJ Number
Jamie Fellner
Cynthia Brown
Date Published
May 1999
28 pages
The treatment of inmates at Red Onion State Prison, Virginia's first super-maximum security facility, raises serious human rights concerns.
The Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) is responsible for safely and humanely confining all inmates, even those deemed to be violent or disruptive. Virginia has endorsed the confinement of dangerous inmates in restrictive, highly controlled facilities. At Red Onion, however, the DOC has failed to embrace basic tenets of sound correctional practice and laws protecting inmates from abusive, degrading, or cruel treatment. Prison conditions at Red Onion are described, based on communication with inmates and their families, information from the DOC, and information from press accounts and other public sources. Recommendations to encourage more respect for human rights at Red Onion are offered that focus on the use of force, criteria used to assign inmates to restrictive conditions, public reporting, segregation, inmate privileges, security, mental health, staff issues, and public access. 66 footnotes