Jail superintendent to step down; oversaw facility from its inception

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 23, 2002

J.R. &uot;Jack&uot; Dewan announced that he would retire from Western Tidewater Regional Jail on January 1, 2003. A former Marine, Dewan has been with the jail since 1991 when the first construction site consisted of a trailer in the middle of a &uot;mud bowl.&uot;

Jail operations and management don’t even begin to describe the extent of Dewan’s skills in running a correctional facility.

He put so much of himself into the regional jail that he not only wrote the operations manual but also chose the colors and furnishings for the facility housing 630 inmates for the cities of Suffolk and Franklin and Isle of Wight County.

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His involvement with Western Tidewater Regional Jail required Dewan to serve as much more than an administrator. He’s been involved in every phase of development for the facility and for all his skills, he’s recognized as a leader in jail operations and management.

Dewan has won numerous honors as superintendent and the jail is certified by the state. In 1993, the facility received its first official certification from the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Corrections, only six months after the jail opened. In 1996, the American Jail Association chose Dewan as &uot;Correctional Administrator of the Year.&uot; He was chosen from administrators across the nation and five other countries.

&uot;I have to give credit to my staff for that honor,&uot; said Dewan. &uot;Whenever I have to attend a meeting somewhere else in the country, there are always comments about the sharp staff, how they look, their professionalism and how they go out of their way to help people. They deserve the credit.&uot;

Dewan’s dedication to the jail not only includes keeping the place in compliance with the Commonwealth’s 97 points of management and operational requirements but he’s also dedicated to helping inmates improve their lives.

&uot;For the inmates, we started several programs including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and we have the G.E.D. program for them,&uot; said Dewan. &uot;We also have a one-on-one program where the Literacy Council comes to teach our inmates to read.&uot;

Dewan is a firm believer in saving money and he worked out many programs to do just that. In fact, through his innovative thinking Western Tidewater Regional Jail has been almost totally self-sufficient.

&uot;Our own staff takes care of health needs for the inmates and our food service takes care of meals and that’s a huge savings when you don’t have to contract the work out,&uot; said Dewan. &uot;That type of savings means we don’t have to charge the localities to house inmates and we’ve saved over $8 million for the localities.

A &uot;canteen&uot; program was also started for inmates where they can purchase hygiene items and snacks. All those funds are returned to the inmates through the many programs provided to educate them for a better quality of life. Dewan said those funds must directly benefit the inmates.

As for his staff, Dewan initiated a program to pay for college credits as long as they keep a &uot;B&uot; average. He also instituted a promotion program for the staff.

Dewan started the jail with sheriff’s deputies from Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight and an additional 40 people who’d never seen the inside of a jail until they were hired by Dewan in July 1991

The superintendent credits his success as a correctional officer to that original team and the officers now staffing the jail, which is located on Hannah Hunt Boulevard, just off Route 10, in Suffolk.

With more than 20years in the field of jail operations, management, training, business and personnel programs, jail design, administration and certification, budget development, and correctional law, Dewan has directed the institutional management, custody, care, discipline, operations and logistical support of the Virginia Beach jail as well as the Suffolk facility. He planned and directed successful jail certifications for both and received the first official jail certifications awarded in the state by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the American Medical Association.

He has worked security and jail projects on the Federal, state and city levels and has instructed jail management and operations on college levels. He has also served on several state and governor’s boards and task forces on criminal justice, and he’s participated in court cases, qualifying as an expert witness in jail operations.

Dewan, formerly of the Third Marine Division and a two-time Vietnam veteran, holds more than 20 decorations and awards from the Marines. He is also a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Sheriff’s Association’s training and education committee, the American Correctional Association, and he’s a charter member of the American Jail Association.

Dewan is also a member of the Virginia Correctional Association and is a past regional chairman of that organization. He is also a past president of the Virginia Association of Regional Jails.

Just a few of the projects in which Dewan has been involved include service as a member of the Commonwealth of Virginia Jail Certification Teams, and he’s directed the planning, development, scheduling and budgeting of a criminal justice training academy. He has authored jail operations manuals for jails, and he’s served as a member of a Federal commission on military facility security.

Dewan also serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Tidewater Community Colleges instructing in jail operations and management and correctional law.

Locally, Dewan is the liaison to the Department of Corrections and in community service he’s served as past president of the Suffolk Ruritan Club and the Virginia Beach Ruritan Club.

A graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dewan did his graduate studies at George Washington University. He also attended the Marine Corps Staff College.

Dewan said he has many memories to carry with him but most of all, he remembers the humble beginnings of the jail.

&uot;We started out there with a trailer out there where it is now a parking lot, but was a mud bowl at the time, and we moved on to the ribbon cutting… and, the fact that we started with 260 inmates and now we average 630 inmates a day,&uot; said Dewan. &uot;Also, &uot;mothering’ the jail from the time it opened… I look at all that as very positive experiences I will not forget.&uot;

Dewan is now ready to move on, however, he’s not bowing out.

&uot;I’ve been asked to do some consulting for several organizations,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve been working since I was 12-years old and I cannot just retire, retire. I tried it once and it didn’t work.&uot;