VIRGINIA DOC FAQs (from their website)
Q: What is AFOI?
A: AFOI (Assisting Families of Inmates) is a non-profit organization based in Richmond, VA dedicated to providing opportunities for regular and meaningful visitation, referrals to community resources, and vital services that help families cope with incarceration and prepare for release and reunification.
Q: What services does AFOI provide?
A: AFOI provides a number of services for families affected by the incarceration of a loved one. View an overview of our services here.
Q: How can I check on the status of my Virginia Department of Corrections Visitor Application?
A: Please do not call or contact AFOI for the status of your Virginia DOC Visitor Application. We do not have access to this information. To inquire about the status of your application, contact the Virginia DOC Visitation Unit by calling (804) 887-8341 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFOI provides assistance in completing the Virginia DOC Visitor Application via phone to people who lack access to a computer or the internet, or otherwise are unable to complete the application on their own.
Q: How do I sign up for the Adult Facilities Transportation Program?
A: To enroll in our Adult Facilities Transportation Program, you first must be approved by the Virginia Department of Corrections for visitation. The Virginia DOC only accepts online applications for visitation, which you can find here. If you need assistance with completing the application, call us at (804) 643-2401.
Q: What facilities does the Adult Facilities Transportation Program go to?
A: To see the facilities our buses travel to, view our current schedule.
Q: What day/time does my bus leave?
A: AFOI makes trips to adult correctional facilities on the first and second Saturday of each month. To determine what days/times a certain trip leaves, view our current schedule.
Q: Why was my bus cancelled?
A: AFOI makes every effort to ensure all scheduled trips are not cancelled. However, occasionally, we will have to cancel trips due to low ridership, weather, and other unforeseen circumstances. If you have made a reservation for a trip and it is cancelled, you will be notified by phone on the Friday before the trip. If you want to check on the status of the trip after our business hours, call us at (804) 643-2401 and check the reservations line by pressing 91. The recorded message will notify you of any status changes for upcoming trips.
Q: How do I sign up or make a reservation for the Juvenile Facilities Transportation Program?
A: To sign up or make a reservation for a trip to a juvenile facility, contact the juvenile's parole or probation officer.
Q: Where are the bus stops (departure points) for the Juvenile Facilities Transportation Program?
A: You can find a list of bus stops (departure points) for the Juvenile Facilities Transportation Program here.
Q: How do I sign up for the Video Visitation Program?
A: View the steps for registering for the AFOI Video Visitation Program here.
Q: Can I use my personal phone, tablet, or computer for video visitation?
A: Currently, video visitation to state correctional facilities in Virginia is only available by going to one of our visitor centers, located throughout the state. However, video visitation via personal devices may be available in the future. Check back for updates!
Q: How can I enroll my child in the Milk and Cookies Children's Program (MAC)?
A: The MAC Program is currently offered at four elementary schools in Richmond, VA: Woodville Elementary School, Fairfield Elementary School, Chimbarazo Elementary School, and Swansboro Elementary School. If your child attends one of these schools and has a parent or caregiver who is currently incarcerated, contact the school for a MAC Program permission slip and return the completed form to the school. Once AFOI receives the permission slip, we will contact you via phone to conduct a brief family intake; afterwards, your child will be formally enrolled in the program.
If you need help getting a permission slip or would like to learn more about our program, contact us.
Q: What other types of assistance does AFOI offer to families coping with the incarceration of a loved one? How can I receive this assistance?
A: Contact us for more information about the types of assistance we can offer you.
Q: Does AFOI offer services outside of the state of Virginia?
A: AFOI is the only organization of its kind in Virginia, and one of few in the country. Currently, we only offer services within the state of Virginia.
Q: How can I get involved and support AFOI's mission?
A: AFOI relies on the support of donors and volunteers to sustain and grow our vital programs. To become involved and support us, you can make a donation, sign up to volunteer, purchase something from our Amazon Wish List, or attend one of our upcoming events. Anything you can give or do helps tremendously!
Q: How can I apply to visit an inmate?
A: All applications must be completed online and must be renewed every three years. Complete the application here.
Q: How can I send money to an inmate?
A: Click here to find out more.
Q: Can I send personal property items to an inmate?
A: No. Division Operating Procedure 856-7.7 states: “Inmates may purchase personal items in the commissary or from approved mail order sources… Credit, C.O.D., and third party payments are prohibited. Personal property may not be received by mail or delivery service from any source other than an approved mail order vendor. Property may not be received from visitors or any other source.”
Q: If I visit an inmate will I be searched?
A: Yes. As regulated by Division Operating Procedure 854, inmates and visitors shall be searched in accordance with security procedures.
Q: How can I get directions to a correctional facility?
A: Click here to for a list of facilities.
Q: How long does it take to bring an inmate into the DOC after sentencing?
A: Inmates who are state responsible are normally brought into the Department of Corrections within 60 days after the receipt of their final sentencing order from the sentencing courts.
Q: Does the sentencing order have to come from the court?
A: Yes. The Department of Corrections must receive an original copy of the court order directly from the sentencing court before the time computation process can begin.
Q: Can a relative request that an inmate be transferred to the DOC institution closest to their home?
A: No. The inmate may make this request at the time of his/her initial assignment or annual review. Provided the inmate meets the specific criteria for the institution requested and if there is space available, the request will be taken under consideration.
Q: How does an inmate participate in the Home Electronic Monitoring Program?
A: If an inmate wishes to be considered for this program the request must come from the Sheriff or Regional Jail Administrator to have the inmate transferred back to the jail. Home Electronic Monitoring (HEM) is then administered by the jails. (Note: Home Electronic Monitoring is not administered by DOC adult institutions.)
Q: How can an inmate request a copy of his/her “legal” update?
A: A copy of the legal update cannot be requested. A legal update is generated only if a change occurs that may affect the inmate’s time to serve. At this time, the inmate is sent a copy of the new legal update.
Q: Why can’t an inmate transfer as soon as an institutional housing assignment is made?
A: The Transportation Section of the Classification and Records Unit schedules inmate transfers on a priority basis. Inmates with greater security needs will be scheduled for movement first. Transportation also must take into consideration factors such as bed availability and institutional population management.
Q: What is the difference between discretionary and mandatory parole?
A: Discretionary parole occurs when the Parole Board grants parole before the offender completes his or her sentence. Parole Board members grant discretionary parole when, after carefully reviewing all available information, they determine that an offender is suitable to be paroled. Mandatory parole is the automatic release of an offender six months before completion of his or her sentence. Unlike discretionary parole decisions, the Parole Board does not vote on this type of parole as it is established by law. Special conditions can be imposed upon mandatory release, if the Board deems that additional supervision is required for the release.
Q: What can I do to provide support and encouragement for an incarcerated offender?
A. You can encourage them to obey the rules set forth by DOC institutions. These rules are in place to ensure safety and security for all inmates and staff. You may also want to encourage the offender to use his or her time wisely by becoming involved in school, treatment programs and work activities. You may write and/or visit on a regular basis, or you can occasionally contact the offender’s counselor to discuss a specific concern. Please be informed that Department of Corrections employees are prohibited from releasing details about any ongoing investigation or an inmate’s involvement in a specific incident. You may request information about the content of non-security operating procedures, but not about the application of these procedures to any specific inmate. If information is needed about such procedures, contact the Warden/Superintendent’s Office at the inmate’s assigned facility.
Q: Do offenders appear before Parole Board members?
A: No. Offenders who are eligible are interviewed by Parole Examiners. In accordance with the Parole Board policy, normally only the Parole Examiner, the offender, and his or her institutional counselor are present. Parole Examiners conduct interviews, rather than Parole Board members, to assist in expediting the decision-making process.
Q: What is parole supervision?
A: When an offender is released on parole, he or she agrees to adhere to a set of rules, which in some cases may include special conditions, such as providing urine samples for drug testing and attending substance abuse treatment. In order to maintain regular contact, the parolee is placed under supervision of a Probation and Parole Officer. The officer’s job is to monitor a parolee’s compliance with all the rules in the parole release agreement, to work with the offender on identifying crucial needs, and generally to assist the parolee re-enter society.
Q: As a citizen, can I have a meeting with a representative of the Parole Board?
A: Yes. Individuals desiring an appointment with a representative of the Parole Board should contact the Parole Board’s Appointment Secretary either by letter or by telephone. Appointments should be scheduled prior to the date an offender is scheduled to be interviewed. The main purpose of a Board appointment is to allow the public the opportunity to express their views and to provide input into the parole process. If you cannot personally attend a Board appointment and choose to write instead, letters must be received no later than five working days following an offender’s interview in order to be considered in conjunction with the year’s parole review.
Q: Can a person be returned to prison while on parole?
A: Yes. If a parolee is convicted of a new offense or violates the parole agreement, the Parole Board can have his or her parole revoked and the offender returned to prison.
Q: When and how can a parolee successfully complete his or her sentence obligation?
A: If, after a reasonable length of time, a parolee continues to show that he or she can obey all of the rules of parole, the person will be reviewed for discharge from parole supervision. At that time, he or she will receive a certificate stating that current sentence and parole obligations to the Commonwealth have been met.
Q: Can a Parole Board decision be appealed or reconsidered?
A: Yes. An offender has the option to appeal a Parole Board’s decision when errors in fact, unknowingly considered during the review process, are afterwards identified. The Board reconsiders cases when significant new information is presented that was unavailable to the Parole Board when the case was originally reviewed.
Q: How do offenders apply for a pardon, clemency or the restoration of their civil rights?
A: These are handled through the Secretary of the Commonwealth who has established the processes and procedures.
Q: How can I contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth?
A: Written correspondence:
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218