The Roanoke City Jail is located at 324 Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke adjacent to the courthouse. The population of Roanoke, the ninth largest city in Virginia, is 96,714. The population of the greater Roanoke metropolitan area is 303,418.
The current Roanoke City Jail was opened in June, 1979, replacing an antiquated facility built in 1915 which was located on the top floor of the old courthouse.
In 1979, the Roanoke City Jail was selected by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve as a pilot site to develop an automated resident records system. Prior to the end of the program, the Roanoke City Jail budgeted funds to support the automated system. Since the program began, the system has been continually updated by the addition of new computer equipment and new or additional programs, thus making the system more consistent with the needs and demands of the adult detention center.
Initially, the current adult detention center had a rated capacity of 162 residents, but completion of the shelled pods on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors and the completion of the adult detention center addition have resulted in a Board of Corrections rated capacity of 376 residents and an operating capacity of 409 residents. The total adult detention center complex has a total of 335 cells. Of this total, 216 of the general purpose cells on the second, third and fourth floors of the main adult detention center and 59 of the general purpose and work release dormitory cells of the new addition have been double bunked due to the increasing resident population. If every bed in the adult detention center is filled - including the classification holding area beds, segregation beds and infirmary beds, a total of 834 individuals could be accommodated.
When the "Minimum Standards for Local Adult Detention Centers and Lockups" were established in 1981, the Roanoke City Jail was the first adult detention center in Virginia to receive 100% compliance with all standards which included mandatory, essential, and important standards. The adult detention center is currently certified by the Virginia Board of Corrections every 3 years and is the only adult detention center in Virginia to have received 100 percent compliance on all of its certifications. Reports from the Virginia Department of Corrections, Division of Adult Community Corrections, consistently describe the adult detention center as an "excellent facility" which meets or exceeds all requirements. The adult detention center's policy and procedure manual was described in 1 state inspector's letter of February 21, 1990 as the "the best in the state."
In 1985, the National Sheriff's Association was asked to audit the Roanoke City Jail. This audit was made possible by a grant awarded to the National Sheriff's Association by the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. The audit included a thorough and intensive review of adult detention center operations and management which was measured against nationally recognized standards. The on-site audit was conducted by consultants James Murphy and Pete Waters who rated the adult detention center as one of the 2 best adult detention centers ever audited. This audit was used as a management tool for the monitoring and improvement of adult detention center operations on a continual basis.
In 1987, the Roanoke City Jail's Medical Section was awarded an accreditation by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. At this time, the adult detention center was one of the few in this part of the country to receive this accreditation. In order to maintain this accreditation the adult detention center must submit an annual maintenance report and participate in an on site inspection every 3 years. The adult detention center's last inspection was in November 1995.
In 1990, technical assistance was requested for a general facility audit for a possible accreditation of the Roanoke City Jail by the American Correctional Association. This technical assistance was funded by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), Adult Detention Centers Division. NIC is a federal agency that provides assistance to state and local correctional agencies in their efforts to improve their operations by making them more effective, humane, and safe. The consultant, James Murphy, who provided the technical assistance, did so on a contractual basis at the request of the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office and through the coordination of NIC. The adult detention center was audited for compliance with American Correctional Association Standards. Mr. Murphy noted that there was no question on his part that the detention functions of the Roanoke City Sheriff's Office are credible, with some minor additions to and revisions of the policies and procedures which are already superior to most.
In 1991, the Roanoke City Jail was honored to receive accreditation by the American Correctional Association. This national recognition was shared by only 2 other adult detention centers in Virginia at that time. The adult detention center benefited from more than a year of self-examination in working to comply with almost 400 standards necessary for accreditation. The standards cover such areas as the adult detention center's administration, fiscal management, staff training, maintenance of records, security, food service, sanitation and health care, work programs, and other resident services and programs. To be accredited by the ACA, a adult detention center must be in compliance with all mandatory standards and 70% of the non-mandatory standards. The Roanoke City Jail met all of the mandatory standards and 98% of the non-mandatory ones and received one of the highest ratings ever received by a adult detention center. The Roanoke City Jail joins about 10% of adult detention centers and correctional facilities nationwide to receive accreditation.
In 1994, the Roanoke City Jail received re-accreditation by the American Correctional Association. In the 3 years that the adult detention center was first accredited, the adult detention center was able to increase its compliance with non-mandatory standards to 99.4. The 2 standards found in non-compliance dealt with the adult detention center's physical design, such as double-bunking, which was commonplace when the adult detention center was built. Since these changes in construction are beyond the control of the facility, the Roanoke City Jail has proven that it has addressed perfect compliance every standard that it can possibly address.
In August 1995 a digital imaging fingerprinting system (TENPRINTER®) was put into operation at the Roanoke City Jail. This was done as a pilot project with the Virginia State Police and is connected by computer modem to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in Richmond. This allows for integrated booking and transmission of a detainee's fingerprints and demographic information without ink and automatic identification of prints through AFIS. With the assistance of Roanoke City Department of Technology personnel, we were able to interface the TENPRINTER® system with the current Adult Detention Center Management computer system to enhance the collection and transmission of demographic and arrest data.
In 1996, work was completed on the Roanoke City Jail Annex creating an additional 331 beds. The annex, which is connected to the main adult detention center facility on the first and second floors, is also a basic pod design concept excluding the segregation unit and the dormitory. This addition houses a new library, new laundry, additional indoor/outdoor recreational areas, a work release dormitory, segregation unit and additional program space. The Sheriff's Office and Civil Process Section also relocated to the new facility.
In 2022, The Sheriff rebranded the facility as the Roanoke City Adult Detention Center, marking not just a name change but also a shift in organizational tone and focus. The new name reflects a more humane and rehabilitative approach to adult detention, aligning the center more closely with modern correctional philosophies. This renaming has been officially updated in all relevant documents and signage, symbolizing the facility's commitment to evolve and better serve the community.