Virginia's Youth Prison Population Drops by Two-Thirds

Aug 28, 2017


Prison guards stand on the road near the entrance to the Greensville Correctional Center.
Credit Steve Helber / AP


Each year, Virginia spends $187,000 to imprison, and educate, just one child. The high cost, and high population, has led to bipartisan support for restructuring the juvenile justice system. Virginia’s Governor touted the state’s success at a conference Monday.

Speaking at a forum on criminal justice reform, Governor Terry McAuliffe celebrated Virginia’s rapidly shrinking juvenile prison population.

“I am proud to say that our population of incarcerated youth has been cut now by two thirds, from nearly 600 to just over 200 today," he announced.

Virginia is currently restructuring its juvenile justice system. Savings from reducing the population size will allow the state to transfer remaining inmates from two large facilities, to smaller community-based centers. The state has also been paying for families to visit their children in jail.

“All of these steps will help us strike the right balance between public safety, cost effectiveness and rehabilitation," McAuliffe said. "And they support our ultimate goal of giving these kids a shot at a better life when they leave.”

McAuliffe’s speech at the Brookings Institution came just after he attended a family day at the Bon Air Correctional Center, outside of Richmond.


It’s Virginia’s last remaining maximum security prison for children.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association