- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pennsylvania officials plan to transfer back to the state about 1,000 inmates they currently pay to have housed in Virginia prisons — a move that could cost Virginia upward of $20 million.

Harold W. Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, said in a memo Thursday that Virginia has not received a 180-day written notice required by law that says Pennsylvania is pulling out of a contract the states entered into in February 2010, but “we have every reason to believe it will be forthcoming.”

“Should withdrawal of out of state inmates occur, the Department will devise strategies to replace the lost revenue which may include a request for funding from the 2012 General Assembly, significant reductions in our current operations or continued pursuit of placement of other out of state offenders,” he said in the memo.

Virginia houses 1,050 out-of-state contract inmates. Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham, Va., houses only Pennsylvania inmates, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor.

About 965 inmates are housed at Green Rock, and the department collects about $20.4 million each year from the sale of beds to Pennsylvania, which pays Virginia $62 per inmate per day to house them.

Green Rock currently employs 265 full-time DOC employees, and the Department of Correctional Education has about 14 employees there.

“The transfer of the Pennsylvania inmates from Virginia will place the Department in a difficult financial situation,” Mr. Clarke said in the memo. “The revenue from out of state inmates not only pays for the operation of Green Rock, it also provides funding to other inmate beds.”

About 31,140 inmates, including the Pennsylvania inmates, are housed at Virginia Department of Corrections facilities. The department is awaiting further information from Pennsylvania and is working on options to present to state officials on how to best handle the anticipated shortfall.

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said that a leveling off of the inmate population in the state and the opening of additional housing units has provided enough space to bring the inmates back.