RD744 - Use of Restorative Housing within State Correctional Facilities and Juvenile Correctional Centers – December 1, 2022

Executive Summary:

Pursuant to that requirement, this report is the product of engagement and collaboration among workgroup members who had varying expertise and perspectives on the recommendations. The members included representatives from the Virginia Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, and formerly incarcerated individuals who reflected on their experiences within Restorative Housing. Membership included:

VADOC Workgroup Members

Jermiah Fitz, Corrections Operations Administrator & Legislative Liaison
Rose Durbin, Corrections Operations Manager & Constituent Affairs Liaison
Tish Rothenbach, Legislative Analyst
Shaina Morris, Administrative Staff Assistant
Lois Fegan, Chief of Restorative & Diversionary Housing
Dr. Denise Malone, Chief of Mental Health & Wellness Services
Dr. Susan Williams, Mental Health & Wellness Initiatives Administrator
Dr. Tama Celi, Director of Research, *Technical assistance only
Matthew Whibley, Lead Operations Data Analyst
Rick White, Warden, Red Onion State Prison
James Blevins, Assistant Warden, Wallens Ridge State Prison

Non-VADOC Workgroup Members

Delegate Patrick Hope, District 47, VA House of Delegates
Dr. Eric Williams, Professor of Criminal Justice, Radford University
Joyce Holmon, Deputy Director of Residential Services, Department of Juvenile Justice
James Towey, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Department of Juvenile Justice
Kristen Peterson, Regulatory Affairs Coordinator, Department of Juvenile Justice
Dr. Jessica Schneider, Data Management Director, Department of Juvenile Justice
Shaun Parker, Residential Program Manager, Department of Juvenile Justice
Donald Baylor, Director of Organizing the Public Sector & Legislative Liaison, National Coalition of Public Safety Officers
Travis May
Alan Brothers
Leland Reid

For the purposes of interviewing, workgroup members developed two subcommittees relating to their areas of expertise which were (1) Questions and (2) Logistics. Each subcommittee was tasked with addressing the requirements of Senate Bill 108 regarding (1) interviewing criteria and (2) methodologies for administering the interviews. The legislation also called for recommendations for Restorative Housing based upon interview findings and consideration of the testimonies from various staff members and incarcerated individuals whom resided in Restorative Housing, both past and recent.

In terms of workgroup membership, it is important to note:

On Friday, September 9, 2022, the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement sent an email to VADOC/SB108 workgroup members placing their participation in the Restorative Housing study on hold. Specifically the email read:

Dear Mr. Fitz,

Throughout the SB108 workgroup meetings the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement has repeatedly shown the legal necessity of a federally and state mandated Institutional Review Board (IRB). This was not simply a layperson’s opinion but the unanimous agreement of our lawyers and research professionals, including Dr. Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD, Harvard Professor and Executive Director of The Center for Law, Brain, & Behavior.

We offered an external IRB from Williams James College that would be provided Pro Bono to ensure that this study, which will be used to inform public policy debates and decisions and is not simply an internal Department of Corrections document, is done in a way that does not harm a vulnerable population. When the Department of Corrections refused our offer we accepted your proposal to have Virginia DOC’s own Human Subject Research Review Committee’s oversight.

It came as a shock to us that at the very end of the SB108 Workgroup meeting on September 1 that Jeremiah Fitz announced that the Department of Corrections had unilaterally decided they would not allow oversight of this research by even your own HSRRC. On Tuesday, September 6 we verified DOC’s stance in the Logistics and Questions Subgroups. In both meetings DOC representatives confirmed that they would not allow any type of oversight except for the Attorney General’s office review of the questions.

It is the opinion of our legal team and medical professionals that this is not sufficient. We believe that anyone who participates in this research without oversight from an IRB is violating both federal (45 CFR 46) and state (6VAC15-26) regulations. Additionally, any licensed professional that participates would be subject to having their license revoked and any students that participate are putting their future licensure at stake.

After reviewing our concerns with Senator Morrissey’s office we have come to the difficult conclusion that, in the interest of the safety of the incarcerated and the legal and professional concerns, we must place  our participation on hold until an IRB has reviewed and approved our research plans.

We await your decision on how to proceed with an IRB.


McGennis Williams, Esq.
Chair, Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement

Natasha White
Virginia Director of Community Engagement, Interfaith Action for Human Rights"

The Department consulted with the Attorney General’s Office, as well as Dr. Eric Williams, to determine if an Institutional Review Board (IRB) was required. Due to the minimal risk of harm and the research conducted for the Department’s use, a determination was made that an IRB was not needed; therefore, any interviews conducted by VADOC were not in violation of the law. Additionally, the IRB at Radford University reviewed the VADOC’s intended research proposal and also determined that an IRB was not required.

On September 15, 2022, the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement emailed the workgroup requesting VADOC’s status on consulting with an IRB. On September 20, 2022, the Virginia Department of Corrections responded to this email to inform the Coalition that an IRB was not required, as the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Operating Procedure 020.1 outlines the process that is required for a review by the Human Subjects Research Review Committee (HSRRC). The interviews conducted by this workgroup did not meet the guidelines for review by the HSRRC.

Upon no further communication from the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement, the workgroup continued to proceed with the interviews of VADOC staff and incarcerated individuals in mid-September, in order to adhere to the December 1st deadline for this legislative report.

During an interview session with an incarcerated individual, the interviewee asked the interviewers if they were members of the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement. Those conducting the interview said they were not. The interviewee said that they received an email from a member of the Coalition regarding the SB108 workgroup study. The incarcerated individual agreed to participate in the SB108 interview prior to showing the interviewers the email from the Coalition. The interviewee showed the interviewers the email they received from the Coalition. There were two separate emails. One dated September 6, 2022, explained that the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement were not comfortable ethically with the plan VADOC had set forth, and urged the incarcerated individuals in VADOC facilities to contact ACLU of Virginia and the author of the email. The author of the email provided their email address, phone number and mailing address.

Likewise, a second email was sent on September 16, 2022, stating that the Coalition did not feel comfortable with moving forward with VADOC and its proposal; a member of the Coalition was requesting inmates – who felt comfortable doing so – to submit pieces of writing regarding their personal experiences in restorative housing/solitary confinement/isolation. Again, the author included their email address, phone number and mailing address.

Upon this revelation, the interviewers told VADOC leadership of the situation and an email investigation with JPAY was conducted to ensure the incarcerated individuals interviewed were not influenced in their responses based upon the information in both emails from a member of the Coalition. The investigation revealed that a member of the Virginia Coalition sent two (2) separate emails (on the above dates) to 28 incarcerated individuals, who varied in housing across what appeared to be at least 12 VADOC facilities. Only one incarcerated individual of the 25 interviewed received emails on the dates provided by the member of the Virginia Coalition on Solitary Confinement.


This report highlights the results of staff and inmate interviews, as well as recommendations for the use of Restorative Housing agreed upon by the workgroup. Please note: Throughout this report, the terms inmate and incarcerated individual are used interchangeably.