Red Onion State Prison

Red Onion State Prison is a supermax state prison for "the worst of the worst" that is located near Pound, Virginia. This facility can house approximately 800 inmates and is operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections. 

This facility has faced criticism for housing inmates that have broken the rules at other facilities, not those who have committed severe crimes. Fifty-five percent of inmates at Red Onion have sentences longer than 15 years. Twelve percent are serving life sentences.

More than two-thirds of the inmates at Red Onion are held in solitary confinement. They are confined to their cells 20 hours per day. The length of confinement ranges from two weeks to fourteen years. Food and medicine are served to inmates through trays in the cell door. The facility was designed to minimize contact between officers and inmates.

Critics have pointed out that the solitary confinement rate at Red Onion is higher than at any other prison in Virginia. More than 170 inmates in solitary confinement have been diagnosed with mental illness. 

Red Onion is the home of surviving "Beltway Sniper," Lee Boyd Malvo.

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Red Onion State Prison

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Visiting Hours and Rules

Visiting hours are on Saturdays and Sundays at Red Onion State Prison. The visiting schedule rotates, so call the facility to find out your inmate's specific visiting times.

Video visits are also available through a partnership with Assisting Families of Inmates (AFOI). As a family or friend of an inmate, you can meet with your incarcerated loved ones remotely, and reduce the cost of traveling long distances. Video visit hours are between 9 am and 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Applying for Visitation

All visitors must be approved by the Virginia Department of Corrections before visiting an inmate at Red Onion State Prison. 

You can submit a visitation application online. Minor visitors must attach their application to an adult application. If you are not the minor's parent or legal guardian, you must include a Notarized Statement – Minor Visitor form. 

After the DOC processes your application (including a background check), you will receive an email informing you of your application's approval or explaining the reason(s) for disapproval. 

For video visits, you can initiate the application process. First, go through the Virginia Department of Corrections' standard visitation application process. Once approved, mail the completed video visitation application with the fee to the appropriate AFOI video visitation center. Find more information on video visitation fees on the AFOI website.

What to Bring to a Visit

All adult visitors must have a valid photo ID. Acceptable forms are: Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID, or an official picture ID issued by a federal or state agency. 

Before entering the visiting room, you will be searched by electronic scanning and detection devices. You may also be subject to pat-down frisk searches and contraband detection canines. 

Visitors can't take anything into the visiting area except: 

  • A visitor's pass 
  • A maximum of $20.00 in coins (no paper money) per adult visitor
  • Personal vehicle key only (“keyless” keys are not authorized) 
  • DOC locker key 
  • Essential items for infant feeding

Keep all property locked in your vehicle. You can not bring in food, cash money, checks, money orders, or lottery tickets. No cell phones, electronic devices, smart watches, or wearable technology. 

Dress Code

All visitors must follow the dress code. Clothing must cover you from the neck to the kneecaps. You must also wear underwear and footwear. Clothing with symbols or signs with inappropriate language or graphics is prohibited.

Physical Address

Red Onion State Prison
10800 H. Jack Rose Highway
Pound, VA 24279

Driving Directions:

General Phone Number


Inmate Mailing Address(es)

Inmate name and DOC number
Red Onion State Prison
P.O. Box 970
Pound, VA 24279

Inmates at Red Onion State Prison only receive photocopies of their mail, not the originals. Prison staff shreds all original mail contents, including personal photos after they are copied. Watch this video to see how the Virginia DOC distributes mail.

Three 8.5”X 11” photocopied black and white pages, front and back, are allowed per mailing, including a copy of the envelope. You may send letters, greeting cards, postcards, and appropriate photos (no pornographic, obscene, or offensive imagery).

The following items will be rejected:

  • Money orders, cash, checks, or other items of monetary value (send money to an offender with JPay)
  • Postage stamps, prepaid postage envelopes and postcards
  • Nude or semi-nude images of anyone
  • Contraband or other items not in compliance with Operating Procedure 802.1

How to Call an Inmate

You can't call an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, but they do have access to phones during daytime hours. For complete details on how to call an inmate in Virginia, please click here.

How to Send Money

To send money to an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, use one of the following options:

  • Online or Mobile App: The fastest way to send money is by using a credit or debit card and making an online payment or using the JPay mobile app (Android, Apple iOS).
  • Phone: Call JPay at 1 (800) 574-5729 to make payments anytime 24/7.
  • Send all money orders with a deposit slip to:
    P.O. Box 278170
    Miramar, FL 33027

Programs For Inmates

Because Red Onion is a supermax facility, programming is limited and often done via video on CCTV.  

Adult Basic Education: Students learn literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. ABE students graduate to adult secondary studies in preparation for High School Equivalency (HSE).

High School Equivalency: Adult secondary level instruction that ends when offenders pass the GED exam.

Preventing Relapse by Educating for Parole Success (PREPS): Helps inmates address physical, emotional, psychological, and physiological issues that may affect their successful adaptation to society upon release. 

Ready to Work: Participants in this course create resumes, conduct job searches, complete job applications, practice interviewing, learn about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, practice dealing with rejection, and learn job retention skills.

Re-entry Money Smart – Making Cents Out of Your Finances: A money management video program that covers topics like Understanding Your Paycheck, Planning for Rainy Days and Your Future, Managing Your Expenses Online, Borrowing and Paying Your Debts, and Living Within Your Means and Sharing With Others.

Re-entry Planning: Inmates plan for their release by working on various aspects of life. Topics include education, finances, employment, relationships, and physical health and develop long-term goals in each area.

Resources for Successful Living: Seminars that cover topics like managing new relationships, maintaining health, and using resources like the Virginia Department of Social Services, the Virginia Department of Veteran Services, etc.

Special Education: Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that meet the needs of inmates who qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

The Challenge Program: Inmates learn the process of maintaining a journal. They express their personal feelings/ideas in writing and are encouraged to do self-evaluations and reflections.

Thinking for A Change: The goal of this course is to decrease criminal thinking through cognitive behavioral changes and skill development.

Pictures of Red Onion State Prison

Careers at Red Onion State Prison

If you are interested in a career with the Virginia Department of Corrections and would like more information about job listings at the Red Onion State Prison, click here.