VIRGINIA BEACH — Consider these numbers: From 2017 to 2018 the city’s Correctional Center had 7,042 women incarcerated and released, 2,405 were admitted and released more than once, said Kathy Hieatt, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
Those women are housed in the city’s correctional center which houses both male and female inmates.
“The city’s jail is for pre-trial detainees and misdemeanor sentences, but due to overcrowding in the prison system, inmates may serve as much as three to five years there before being transferred post-sentencing,” Hieatt said.
As of March 19 the correctional facility had 180 women incarcerated, she said.
“All of these numbers include women who were just here for a few hours and women who were here for several months,” Hieatt said.
During the time-frame of 2017-2018 the average length of stay was 18 days and the longest stay was 1,165 days, she said.
Women are incarcerated in the facility for a multitude of reasons and the sheriff’s office was able to provide the top 10 offenses women are jailed for in the city.
The order goes from most common to least common:
- Felony probation violation
- Possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance
- Grand larceny
- Failure to appear in court for a misdemeanor offense
- Simple assault on a law enforcement officer, doctor, firefighter or rescuer
- Petty larceny (third or subsequent offense)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Contempt of court
- Driving while intoxicated (first offense) – violation of bond/pretrial release conditions – statutory burglary (these three offenses were tied)
- Petty larceny (first offense) – Possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I/II controlled substance (these two offenses were tied)
Challenges they may face
Staying connected with family and maintaining employment remain among the top challenges that incarcerated women may face once they get out, Hieatt said.
“Incarcerated women face many of the same challenges as incarcerated men,” she said.
Both men and women are offered the same programs in the correctional center, including the trusty, religious, recover/substance abuse, GED and reentry programs.
“There are not many programs exclusively for women,” Hieatt, noting the only program that has partial female participation is the Workforce Program.
“[The women] are assigned jobs such as janitorial work and are not the work crew that goes out and does mowing, painting, etc,” Hieatt said.
The reason, she said, was the sheriff’s office does not have sufficient work contracts to necessitate a male and female crew.
Overall, the training of deputies who directly deal with the inmates is the same for both males and females.
Hieatt said there’s no difference in training and they treat all inmates the same, regardless of gender.