A former head of California's prison system for eight years, Raymond K. Procunier, will be Virginia's new corrections director.

Appointed by Gov. Charles S. Robb, the 58-year-old Procunier is scheduled to begin his $50,100-a-year job in Richmond next week. He will succeed T. Don Hutto, who resigned Jan. 16, and the current acting director, Robert M. Landon.

Procunier began his career as a prison guard and worked his way through the ranks. He was hired away to be corrections director in Utah before being recalled to California to serve under Gov. Ronald Reagan. Procunier later headed California's parole board.

"This man," said Robb's press secretary, George Stoddart, "is a superior and nationally recognized expert . . . on prisons."

As corrections director, Procunier will report to Secretary of Public Safety Frank White.

In a telephone interview with a Richmond newspaper, Procunier said his first priority will be to see that each of Virginia's 9,000 prisoners is in the right institution. "The backbone of a prison system is the classification of inmates," he said.

California's prison system has nearly 30,000 inmates.

Foreshadowing Procunier's arrival, the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit last week charging that the state penitentiary in Richmond improperly mixes hardened violent criminals with those convicted of less violent crimes.