Sheriff's Office

703-246-3227 TTY 711
4110 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Stacey A. Kincaid

Technology Offers New Opportunities in the Adult Detention Center

July 21, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted how the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office operates in its Adult Detention Center. In 2020, heavy-duty cleaning and wearing masks became top priorities. Volunteer-led programs and in-person visitation were suspended. Testing and quarantine became the norm. Then and now, the agency continues to follow the recommendations of the Fairfax County Health Department for the ADC, a congregate setting.

What has changed since mid-2021 is a greater embrace of technology. “We have had to pivot due to COVID,” said Captain CJ Oakley, Services Branch Chief for the Sheriff’s Office. “We are finding new ways to offer more and better programs to the inmate population that are safer for them and safer for staff.”

The priority was restoring personal visitation, so inmates were not limited to only phone calls with family and friends. In 2021, the Sheriff’s Office contracted with Smart Communications to implement various ways for inmates to communicate with their loved ones. Through Smart, inmates use tablets or kiosks to visit via video, make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, read mail and view pictures from loved ones. On-site kiosks for family and friends are available in the ADC lobby for use free of charge.

Inmate reads from tablet in the quiet room of cell block.Inmates also use the tablets or kiosks to submit requests to the post deputy, maintenance, classification, records, medical, finance, commissary and more. Health videos and associated content are also offered on valuable topics such as managing diabetes, blood pressure and nutrition; recognizing the signs of depression; and post-release planning.

With visiting resolved, the Sheriff’s Office turned to restoring inmate enrichment opportunities that COVID had impacted. In doing so, the agency realized that not only could previous opportunities be restored with the new virtual platform, but the offerings could be expanded significantly.

Lt. Colonel JJ Snyder, Chief Deputy for Operations, echoed Captain Oakley’s sentiment on expansion of opportunities. “Online learning provides fantastic flexibility in a confinement setting, among other benefits. It has aided us in making the task of arranging development opportunities for our inmate population far easier. We are giving them more classes than they ever had, even pre-COVID.”

Using the tablets and kiosks, inmates can access Khan Academy Lite*. On this popular online learning platform, they can access hundreds of classes from a kindergarten skill level through high school. Subject categories include math, science, economics, arts and humanities, computing, reading and language arts, test prep and life skills.

Also in the works for inmates are personal growth and development classes offered by the North America Learning Institute (NALI) through the SMART platform. Course topics will include anger management, behavior modification, domestic violence, sexual harassment, parenting skills, first aid and much more.

Tablets and/or kiosks will remain readily available in the ADC to allow inmates to take full advantage of these opportunities.

*Kahn Academy Lite (KA Lite) is an open-source platform for viewing and interacting with Khan Academy videos and exercises even when no Internet is available. Kahn Academy is a non-profit whose mission is “to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”


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