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Criminal Justice Programs in Virginia

New criminal justice reforms in Virginia are allocating millions of dollars into expanding programs, departments, offices, and agencies in the state. Virginians who are considering an education in criminal justice will begin their careers in a modernized, well-funded system with many more available jobs. The state’s proximity to the capital makes it a hotbed of training, culture, and hiring for federal agencies like Homeland Security and the FBI.

Criminal Justice Careers in Virginia

Careers in the criminal justice system are spread out across three branches: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. They all operate independently of each other, but they’re intertwined and overlapping. The system can’t function without cooperation and coordination between the three branches.

Law Enforcement Job Overview for Virginia

Law enforcement officers work to keep the peace, safeguard the public, and enforce the laws of Virginia. They conduct investigations, respond to complaints and emergency calls, enforce court orders, patrol streets, enforce traffic regulations, arrest criminal suspects, and maintain public order. They often work in conjunction with outside agencies, including federal agencies like the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Here’s a look at median salaries across the state of Virginia for some of the most common careers in law enforcement. You’ll also get a look at projected job growth over the next decade.

CareerCareer Outlook Annual Median Salary
Police officers+9%$53,570
Private detectives and investigatorsNo data available$65,170

All data from Career One Stop.

Careers in the Virginia Court System

After law enforcement officers process criminal suspects, they’re turned over to the courts, where a different set of criminal justice professionals work to determine their guilt. Prosecutors and their assistants prepare evidence and present the state’s case. Judges serve as referees during court proceedings and ensure that the accused receives a fair trial. This table examines job growth projections and median salaries for the most common careers in that branch.

CareerCareer Outlook Annual Median Salary
Paralegals and legal assistantsNo data available$47,810

All data from Career One Stop.

Corrections Careers in Virginia

If criminal suspects plead or are found guilty, they’re turned over to the department of corrections for incarceration or state supervision. That could mean confinement in a jail or prison or a period of criminal supervision in the form of parole or probation. The criminal justice professionals who work in corrections sometimes have police powers—like parole or probation officers—and often work in conjunction with law enforcement agencies. Others, like corrections officers, specialize in securing and safeguarding those who have been convicted. Yet others, like prison counselors, work to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for re-entry into society.

This table shows salary and job-growth statistics for the most common corrections careers.

CareerCareer Outlook Annual Median Salary
Correctional officers and jailers–6%$37,990
Probation officers+5%$45,060

All data from Career One Stop.

Criminal Justice Education Resources in Virginia

Virginia’s criminal justice system is a vast and sprawling network that spans many agencies, offices, and departments. There are simply too many educational resources to list, but the following sites provide information about what is required to begin a career in some of the most common professions. You’ll learn about how to apply, requirements for training, exams, and background requirements.

  • Corrections: Virginia Department of Corrections
    Careers include corrections officer, corrections counselor, warden, and assistant warden.
    Provides information about what the careers entail, salary ranges, and current job openings.
  • Police officers: Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
    Careers include police officers of all types, bail enforcement officers, and private security.
    Provides information for the standards and steps for becoming a police officer and outlines the three-step process for receiving initial law-enforcement certification in Virginia.
  • State Police Officers: Virginia State Police
    Careers include state police officers and supporting civilian employment.
    Provides information for becoming a state police officer in Virginia, including requirements, testing, fees, and physical standards.
  • Justice system: Attorney General of Virginia
    Careers include assistant attorney general and interns.
    Provides information on open positions and the office’s internship program.

Recent Innovations in Criminal Justice in Virginia

The recently elected governor of Virginia is planning significant criminal justice reforms, which he campaigned on as part of his election platform. These far-reaching reforms—and significant budget increases—will have an impact on the careers of professionals in virtually all segments of the criminal justice system. Some reforms will change the way people are trained or supervised. Others will create new positions and expand existing agencies and facilities.

The goal of these reforms is to make the criminal justice system more equitable. For example, one proposal calls for prisoners who are permanently incapacitated or terminally ill to be considered for parole. Another allocates money to help integrate released prisoners into society. A third raises the age at which children can be potentially charged as an adult from 14 to 16.

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Main Criminal Justice Governmental Agencies and Entities in Virginia

These organizations represent the backbone of Virginia’s criminal justice system. Each one hires, supervises, trains, and regulates professionals specific to its own element of criminal justice professionals in the state. However, many of these organizations work together with each other on a regular basis.

  • Division of Capitol Police: With roots dating back to the founding of Jamestown, the Division of Capitol Police is the oldest law enforcement agency in America. It specializes in protecting government officials and employees and provides law-enforcement services to the general public.
  • Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council: This organization provides education and training services to prosecutors in the state of Virginia. It also maintains a searchable database of all attorneys in the commonwealth.
  • Department of Corrections: The DOC oversees and operates Virginia’s roughly 50 correctional facilities. It’s also responsible for Virginia’s parole and other state supervision programs as well as its drug court programs.
  • Department of Criminal Justice Services: DCJS plans and implements criminal justice programs and initiatives. It conducts research, provides training, offers technical support, and distributes federal and state funding to criminal justice entities like law enforcement agencies and private security firms.
  • Department of Emergency Management: This agency is tasked with developing plans for responding to emergencies in Virginia. It works with state and federal agencies, as well as with volunteer groups, to conduct drills and exercises, prepare for emergencies, and respond to crises at the local level.
  • Department of Forensic Science: A nationally accredited forensic laboratory system, this agency analyzes physical evidence from crime scenes, interprets the results of tests, provides training and technical assistance, and provides expert testimony. It works with fire departments, law-enforcement organizations, state agencies, attorneys, and medical examiners.
  • Department of Juvenile Justice: This agency is responsible for operating most juvenile probation offices in the state as well as the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. It also offers services to families attempting to navigate the system on behalf of juvenile offenders.
  • Office of the Attorney General: OAG works with law enforcement agencies across the state to promote public safety. It also provides legal services to Virginia’s colleges and universities, commissions, boards, and state agencies.
  • Department of State Police: The Department of State Police provides statewide law enforcement services in Virginia. Although it’s independent of local law enforcement agencies, it often works in support of them. The organization also conducts investigations and background checks and maintains the state’s sex offender registry.

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Virginia

The following associations and industry organizations represent, raise funds, and advocate for criminal justice professionals across the state.

  • The Police Association of Virginia: This organization works to promote cooperation and friendly relationships among the members of Virginia’s law enforcement community.
  • Virginia State Police Association: This association raises funding for law enforcement personnel and organizations for a variety of causes, including emergency aid and scholarships.
  • Virginia Sheriffs’ Association: Representing sheriffs and deputies across Virginia, the VSA provides both its members and the public with information and educational resources about laws, regulations, and news.
  • Virginia Correctional Association: The VCA provides professional growth and development opportunities, education, information, and leadership for the state’s corrections officers and other personnel.
  • Virginia Forensics League: The VFL runs forensics operations in the state of Virginia, organizes speeches and debates, and works with schools throughout the state.
  • Virginia Probation and Parole Association: An advocate for parole and probation officers, this organization proposes legislation, sponsors scholarships and other awards, and holds an annual conference.