Wallens Ridge State Prison

Wallens Ridge State Prison is a supermax prison for male inmates that is located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. This prison is operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections and can house a maximum of 1,200 inmates.

Most inmates housed in this facility are serving a life sentence or multiple life sentences. It is identical to Red Onion State Prison near Pound, Virginia.

In recent years, Wallens Ridge State Prison has become a focus for human rights watch groups. Its critics claim the practice of housing inmates who are from far away is dangerous for the inmate and keeps them from seeing family and friends.

The 2006 documentary Up the Ridge highlights many of the issues at Wallens Ridge State Prison.

Prison Insights

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Go back

What Do Inmate Families Think?

Go back

What Do Former Inmates Think?

Go back

What Do Employees Think?

Go back
Sorry, there are no insights for this section of the facility yet.
Overall Score = /10
Total Respondents =

Visiting Hours and Rules

The visiting hours at Wallens Ridge State Prison are on Saturdays and Sundays. The schedule rotates, so call the facility to get information about your inmate's specific visiting times.

Applying for Visitation

You must get approval from the Virginia DOC before you are allowed to visit an inmate at Wallens Ridge 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 and performs a background check, you will receive an email informing you of your application's approval or explaining the reason(s) for disapproval. 

What to Bring to a Visit

All adult visitors must have a valid photo ID to visit an inmate. Acceptable forms of identification 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. 

The only items visitors are allowed to take into the visiting room are: 

  • 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 

You must keep all property locked in your vehicle. Visitors are not allowed to bring in food, cash money, checks, money orders, or lottery tickets. No cell phones or electronic devices.

Dress Code

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

Physical Address

Wallens Ridge State Prison
272 Dogwood Drive
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

Driving Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/B3jnwNYBtaNsQsMW9

General Phone Number


Inmate Mailing Address(es)

Inmate name and DOC number
Wallens Ridge State Prison
P.O. Box 759
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219

Inmate mail can be letters (limited to three pages, front and back), greeting cards, postcards, and appropriate photos (no pornographic, obscene, or offensive imagery).

However, the inmates 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.

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 Wallens Ridge 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 Wallens Ridge State Prison, there are a few different 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

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).

Building Opportunities of Knowledge (BOOK): A tutor-assisted Adult Basic Education (ABE) program for inmates not enrolled in the regular program due to waiting list or inability to attend.

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

High Security Intensive Reentry: Assists inmates whose security levels prevent them from transferring to an intensive re-entry site to prepare for re-entry into the community.

Making It on Supervision: This program helps inmates in the intensive re-entry units to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully complete parole.

Phoenix Program: This program addresses the stages of change when transitioning from the structure in an institutional setting versus greater choices in a community. It focuses on various human conditions as they relate to negative and positive behavior. The goal of the Phoenix Program is to allow participants the freedom to think about themselves in a less restrictive environment to make positive choices.

Preventing Relapse by Educating for Parole Success (PREPS): This program 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 program 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.

Reentry Money Smart – Making Cents Out of Your Finances: This video program teaches inmates money management. Segments include: 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.

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

Substance Abuse Matrix Model: This program provides treatment for clients dependent on stimulant drugs.

The Challenge Program: Inmates keep a journal for each series of the program. 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.

Victim Impact – Listen and Learn: This program centers around 10 core crime topics, including assault, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, drunk and impaired driving, homicide, hate and bias, robbery, gang violence, and property crime. 

Pictures of Wallens Ridge State Prison

Careers at Wallens Ridge 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 Wallens Ridge State Prison, click here.