Prison cells

In a bid to curb drugs and other contraband from getting into prisons, starting Jan. 15, the Virginia Department of Corrections will limit inmate visitor lists to no more than 10 different people.

Each inmate must submit a list by Oct. 1 of up to 10 visitors that can be changed twice a year. Minors are excluded from the limit, and offenders with more than 10 immediate family members may request an exception to the limit, according to a release from the department Tuesday.

Lisa Kinney, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email Tuesday that there is currently no limit to the number of visitors, although the majority of offenders do not have more than 10 people on their list.

“Right now, offenders can remove and add visitors anytime, which leads to the instances in which a visitor is recruited to bring drugs into a facility through a visit with an offender the visitor doesn’t even know,” Kinney added.

Officials said the department recognizes the importance of offender visits with friends, family and loved ones, but the introduction of drugs and other contraband into visitation rooms across the state puts visitors — including children — offenders and staff at risk.

The department said it also provides video visitation opportunities in partnership with Assisting Families of Inmates, an independent organization that offers services for families of offenders.

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