Fairfax County Jail: Then and Now


During the Colonial period one might find inhabitants of the Fairfax County jail who were convicted of Sabbath breaking, drunkenness, adultery and public swearing. Not only have the laws for incarceration changed since then, but so has the county facility.

Photo taken in 1947 of the Fairfax County jail. It now houses Sheriff's Office administrative staff.

The first courthouse moved from an area where Tyson's Corner now stands to Alexandria Old Town on Market Square. Neither structure stands today, but the third courthouse, which was built in 1800, is at the corner of Main Street and Chain Bridge Road, in the City of Fairfax. It is next door to the old jail that was originally built in 1802, burned down in 1884, and was rebuilt and renovated in the early 20th century. It now houses administrative staff for the Sheriff's Office.

The Adult Detention Center is unique in the nation because it provides four types of jail housing: linear, podular remote, and direct supervision. Both male and female sheriff's deputies manage the inmate population, which averages about 1,300 daily. Most of a 750-bed expansion opened in the fall of 2000.

While in custody at the ADC, inmates are awaiting trial and sentencing, they have been convicted and are serving a sentence or they are awaiting transfer to a state prison. Generally, the facility takes offenders sentenced to 12 months or less. Although the law states that inmates sentenced to a year or more will go to a state prison, about 10 percent of the ADC population is serving a sentence of at least three years.

Juvenile offenders are managed separately from the adult inmate population and also have a separate court system.

The Sheriff's Office offers alternative incarceration programs for inmates who qualify according to the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Code of Virginia. These programs include work release, electronic incarceration, community labor force, weekender work, community service and fines option programs. The programs prepare inmates for transition back to the community.


Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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