Prison Profile: Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg Low

By Christopher ZoukisOfficial Address

Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg Low

1100 River Road

Hopewell, VA 23860

Phone: 804-733-7881

Fax: 804-863-1510


Inmate Correspondence Address 

Image courtesy

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Inmate Name and Registration Number

FCI Petersburg Low

P.O. Box 1000

Petersburg, VA 23804

(Funds can only be sent to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ National Lockbox Address listed below, not directly to the inmate at FCI Petersburg Low.)

Sex: Male

Security Level: Low Security Federal Prison

Location: FCI Petersburg Low is located 25 miles southwest of Richmond.

BOP Region: Mid-Atlantic Region (MXR)

BOP Institution Code: PET for FCI Petersburg Low, PEX for Petersburg Federal Correctional Complex

Medical Care Level: FCI Petersburg Low is a Level 2 medical care facility.

Judicial District: Eastern Virginia

Population: FCI Petersburg Low houses approximately 1,290 federal inmates.

Background: FCI Petersburg Low was opened in 1932.  While it used to be the location of significant violence (including sexual violence), the institution has calmed down significantly in the past 20 years.  It is now a relatively mellow federal prison.  It is part of the Petersburg Federal Correctional Complex (FCC).

Housing Configuration: Inmates incarcerated at FCI Petersburg Low are housed either in dorms or cells depending on the  housing unit they are assigned to and the area of the housing unit.  Most of the six housing units do not have air conditioning.

Admission and Orientation: During the first 28 days of arrival at FCI Petersburg Low each inmate will attend an Admission and Orientation program.  During this program staff from various departments will inform inmates of policies and procedures concerning specific programs and services at FCI Petersburg Low.

Health Services: Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low have access to a Health Services Department to treat both chronic and acute medical conditions.  This includes routine care, chronic care, and emergency medical care.

If an inmate has a medical condition which they feel warrants medical attention, they can obtain a Triage Form (also known as a “Sick Call”) from their housing unit officer. This form, once completed, can be deposited in a box outside of the Health Services Department.  Triage Forms are collected every weekday between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM.  Once it is collected, the form is routed to the inmate’s assigned Mid-Level Practitioner (MLP).  The MLP then scores the medical condition by severity and attends to the most serious medical condition first.  Inmates are notified to report to the Health Services Department for their examination when their name appears on the call-out list to see their assigned MLP.

If an inmate experiences a medical emergency, they can approach any staff member and request that the Health Services Department be contacted.  When this occurs, the officer relays the conditions to medical personnel.  If medical personnel believe it to be an emergency, they will immediately evaluate the inmate in person.  If not, the inmate will be advised to submit a paper Triage Form.

FCI Petersburg Low holds insulin line/pill line for inmates who require either injectable insulin or restricted medications.  The times for each are as follows: 6:00-6:30 AM (insulin line); 7:00-7:30 AM (pill line); 11:30-12:30 PM (pill line); announced after the 4:00 PM count (insulin line); 7:30-8:00 PM (pill line).  On weekends and holidays pill line times remain the same, but insulin line is moved to 7:00-7:30 AM.

Dental Services: Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low have access to dental services.  In order to be seen for routine care, inmates must submit a cop-out (either a paper-cop-out or an electronic Inmate Request to Staff) requesting dental care.  Inmates usually have to wait between 5 and 12 months to be seen by dental once the request is made.  Emergency dental sick call is available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings before 7:00 AM.  The emergency dental sick call lasts for 10 minutes and is only available to the first 10 inmates to arrive.  If an inmate signs up for emergency dental sick call and the issue is deemed to not be an emergency, the inmate will not be treated and will have to wait the 5 to 12 months for routine dental care services.

Psychology Services: The FCI Petersburg Low Psychology Department offers counseling and a variety of treatment groups.  Groups include Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous, Stress Management, Anger Management, the Drug Education Class, and the Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP), amongst others.  Treatment offerings change quarterly based upon inmate population need.

Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP): FCI Petersburg houses a Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).  This RDAP location houses 108 beds.

Education Services: FCI Petersburg Low offers several educational programs for interested inmates.  This to include GED classes, Adult Continuing Education (ACE) courses, Release Preparation Program (RPP) classes, English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) classes, and parenting classes.  Interested inmates can also enroll in correspondence courses if they, or their family, is able to cover all applicable costs.

Advanced Occupational Education: FCI Petersburg Low does not offer any advanced occupational education programs.

Vocational Training: FCI Petersburg Low offers Machinist Trade, Masonry, and Building Trades vocational training programs.  All vocational training programs are accredited by the State Board of Vocational Education of Virginia, require students to possess a GED or high school diploma prior to enrollment, and issue a certificate from the State Board of Vocational Education of Virginia upon program completion.  While the Machinist Trade vocational training program lasts 12 months, both the Masonry and Building Trades vocational training programs run 2 months each.

Apprenticeship: FCI Petersburg Low offers Electric Maintenance, HVAC, Landscape Management Technician, and Machinist apprenticeship programs.  All apprenticeship programs are accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Apprenticeship, require students to possess a GED or high school diploma prior to enrollment, and issue a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor upon program completion.  The HVAC and Electrical Maintenance apprenticeship programs run 48 months, Machinist 26 months, and the Landscape Management Technician apprenticeship program runs 18 months.

Library Services: Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low have access to a leisure library which offers novels, nonfiction books, magazines, and newspapers for inmate use.  An interlibrary loan program is available for inmates who are seeking a specific title which is not available in the library.  FCI Petersburg Low also houses an inmate law library which contains a copier, TRULINCS law library computers, and a copy machine.

UNICOR: FCI Petersburg Low houses a Distribution Center which became operational in January of 2004 and a Pro-Mail center which because operational in early March 2004.  Pro-Mail is an internet program used between the FCC Petersburg Distribution Center and the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.  The system communicates the status of TSP inventory, tracks the status of protection orders and allows TSP to monitor when material has been shipped from FCI Petersburg Low’s UNICOR location and the mode of transportation of the shipment.

The Distribution Center ships orders to various Federal agencies, ships UNICOR catalogs to various government and private vendors that are in partnership with the Federal Prison Industries, and handles bulk mailings for UNICOR’s Corporate Marketing Group in Washington, DC.  The Distribution Center also assembles toiletry kits (administrative kits) for inmates as well as for other government agencies.  It is also responsible for the Inmate Boot Program.

In addition to these services, FCI Petersburg Low also houses a UNICOR printing plant which serves as a full service printer for the United States Government.

All UNICOR facilities in Petersburg, VA employ a total of 442 incarcerated UNICOR workers.

Commissary: FCI Petersburg Low houses an inmate commissary.  At the commissary inmates can purchase select food items, cosmetic items, and minimal electronics.  Inmate are restricted to spending $320 per month (if they have the funds to do so), excluding stamps, copy cards, and other spending limit exempt items.

Inmate Personal Property: Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low are allowed to retain items which are either purchased from the institution’s commissary or issued by the prison.  While most of the inmate personal property regulations are uniform across the Federal Bureau of Prisons, FCI Petersburg Low does have a few local regulations which could be different from other federal prisons.  For example, inmates are allowed to store their legal materials and supplies either in their cells or in additional storage space which is provided for such purposes by the inmate’s correctional counselor.

As for periodicals, inmates are allowed to possess a total of ten books, five magazines, and three current newspapers in their cell at any time.  If an inmate is enrolled in a college correspondence program through the FCI Petersburg Low Education Department, they can also retain the text and other school supplies related to the approved course of study.

Recreation Services: Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low have access to outdoor and indoor recreation facilities.  Outdoors they can play individual or group sports, exercise, or relax.  One notable plus about the FCI Petersburg Low’s recreation yard is that they have a weight pile for inmate usage.

Visitation Information: FCI Petersburg Low allows inmate visitation on Thursday, Friday, and Monday during the hours of 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.  Visitation is also allowed on Saturday, Sunday, and federal holidays during the hours of 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  Visitation occurs in the visitation room which is located on the first floor of the Administrative Building.  Visitors must be pre-approved and present government issued photo identification in order to be admitted to the visitation area.

Inmates at FCI Petersburg Low are allotted a total of 10 points each month for visitation.  One point is deducted for each weekday visit and two points are deducted for each weekend visit.  Points are revalidated on the first of every month and cannot be accrued if unused.  Any visit which takes place, regardless of length, will be charged the full day’s point rate.

Only four visitors may visit with an inmate at a time.  Children under the age of two years old, who do not require a seat, do not count against the visitor number limit.

For a more in-depth analysis of the FCI Petersburg Low visitation regulations, see Institutional Supplement PEX-5267.08a (Visiting Regulations).

Directions to Prison: From Interstate 95 North, take Exit 54 towards Temple Avenue.  Turn right on Temple Avenue and follow it for approximately 3.2 miles.  Turn left on River Road and follow it approximately 3.6 miles.  FCI Petersburg Low will be located directly after the bend.

From 295 North, take the Fort Lee exit (Exit 9B) which will place you on Oakland Boulevard.  Continue for three lights, then exit to the right immediately after Burger King.  This will place you on VA 147/Temple Avenue.  At the first light turn right on River Road and follow it approximately 3.6 miles.  FCI Petersburg Low will be found directly after the bend in the road.

National Lockbox Address

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Inmate Name and Registration Number

P.O. Box 474701

Des Moines, IA 50947-0001

*Information compiled from multiple Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) documents, Freedom of Information Act requests, and personal interviews with federal inmates.*

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FCI Petersburg Low-Satellite Prison Camp

FCI Petersburg Medium

FCI Petersburg Medium

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