Virginia corrections officials, at the direction of Gov. Charles S. Robb, are reviewing the management, security and types of prisoners held at Camp 30, a state penal facility in Fairfax County where there have been several recent escapes.
The review was triggered by escapes -- eight in the past year -- and complaints from county officials about management and security at the facility, which is just west of Fairfax City in a fast-developing area. County officials also say they are concerned that at least some of the inmates housed at the minimum security facility should be at more secure prisons. Most of the inmates leave every day to work in the community.
John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, has written to Robb about the facility twice in the past two weeks; the first letter expressed concern about security.
The second followed an article in The Washington Post disclosing that the prison has had more escapes over the past decade -- 74 -- than any facility of its type in the state and that among its inmates are a convicted first-degree murderer, two rapists and dozens of armed robbers and drug offenders. Herrity's second letter demanded that the facility be closed.
Andrew Fogarty, the state's newly appointed secretary for transportation and public safety, whose responsibilities include corrections, said Robb's action this week ordering a review of Camp 30 was in response to Herrity's first letter as well as department concern about events there.
"We certainly are very willing to look at changing the mission of the facility to be much more community-oriented," said Fogarty. But he said it is unlikely that Camp 30 will be closed.
Along with the study, which Fogarty said will seek to plot the long-term future of Camp 30, corrections officials will meet Thursday with county officials to review immediate concerns about security and procedures for notifying county police and the camp's neighbors when an escape occurs.
County officials and residents of the area have complained after each escape that they were not properly notified.
Among those who are scheduled to go to Fairfax for Thursday's meeting are Edward Murray, deputy director of corrections for adult facilities; Edward Morris, regional director for corrections, and Dave Smith, the newly appointed superintendent of Camp 30.
Fogarty said the report being prepared for Robb will describe the facility's inmates, programs and problems and propose options for what should be done with it.
The area around the prison has changed so dramatically since Camp 30 was established in 1954 -- from rural to nearly urban -- that Fogarty said its role as a road camp and work release camp may no longer be appropriate.
In his response to Herrity, Robb offered to set up a meeting to include Herrity, Fogarty and the director of corrections, but Herrity's office could not say yesterday whether a meeting will be sought.