top of page

Here at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, the goal of the Programs Department is to help support every offender with their integration back into the community as productive and independently successful. The Programs Department offers offenders’ evidence based classes based off of a risk based needs assessment that will promote the successful reentry of offenders back into the community.

In addition to the classes, the Programs Department also offers Transitional Services that focus specifically on the needs that offenders will have when entering back into community.  Using evidence-based theories proven to have worked in our community we collaborate with other agencies and institutions to include mental health, criminal justice agencies, religious groups, educational agencies K-12 as well as community colleges and universities. This collaboration both within and outside of the institution allows for our inmates to minimize their potential to recidivate offering a mirage of tools and opportunities from various professionals. These services may include assistance obtaining DMV identification, employment within the community, adequate housing and additional necessary documents to help support success. The facility administers its programs in a fair manner in the least restrictive environment consistent with public safety.

If you have any questions about offender programming or would like more information on volunteering to bring a new program to the facility, please contact Raven Brooks at

Currently, the following programs and individual assistance are offered at ACRJ and are subject to change at any time.

Mandatory per Case Management:

 Coping with Anger

 Substance Abuse Matrix

 Bringing Peace to Relationships

 Breaking Chains of Trauma

 Employment & Finance

 Moral Reconation Therapy

 Education: GED

 Seeking Safety


​Adult Basic Education (ABE) Program

ABE classes are organized into low, medium, and high levels. Low level ABE students score between 0.0 and 2.9 Grade Equivalent (GE) on Total Battery of the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE).  Medium level ABE students score between 3.0 and 5.9 GE. High level ABE students score between 6.0-8.9 GE. 

General Equivalency Diploma (GED) Program 

GED is available for students who do not have a high school diploma or GED, and who have attained a 9.0 GE on an A Level TABE test in Reading, Writing, Total Math, and Total Battery. The GED consists of four tests- Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. After a student has qualified for the GED class, they will be administered the GED Ready test in order to determine their likelihood of passing the GED. GED Ready has the same sections as GED, but with a reduced number of questions. Students earn a GED after passing all four sections on the GED.  


English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

The ESL program serves non-native English language learners. Students learn English, as well as math, social studies, reading, and language.  

Special Education (SPED) Program

These classes serve students age 22 and under who have been identified as eligible for special education services prior to incarceration. These classes teach reading, writing, math, and life skills.  

Community Partnerships

ACRJ also serves as an institution for practical learning. Students from UVA and Piedmont Virginia Community College receive practical experience working directly with our inmates as tutors and mentors while also teaching inmates information such reading, writing and mathematical skills.  The students that take part in these opportunities can develop competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivation) needed for a career in Corrections through daily interaction with staff and offenders. We also work with the Madison House, librarians our local school systems in Albemarle and Charlottesville among others.

Good News Jail & Prison Ministry:

The Good News Jail and Prison Ministry believes that God calls us to love and remember the needs of those inmates who are incarcerated in our community. They are someone’s family members, some mother’s child, one of our brothers or sisters. This ministry carries the “good news” of God’s grace, love and hope into a place of regret and sorrow. Each year, the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry raises funds to run programs and activities such as worship services, baptisms, and mentoring. Chaplain Varaksa meets and councils both inmates and staff at ACRJ.​

Official Documents:

Once inmates have been fully sentenced, they are eligible to receive assistance with gathering and official government documents that they may need. They must contact the Programs Department and specify what documents they would like assistance with, along with their release date.

  Birth Certificate & DMV ID

  Social Security Card

  Bond Eligibility Letter


Meet our Department!

Raven Brooks ext. 272

Programs Director

Joseph Varaksa ext. 221


Joseph accepted Christ while serving in the United States Navy and began his ministry as a volunteer while stationed at Norfolk Naval Base. After serving six years in the Navy, Joseph turned his attention to full-time ministry and secured his undergraduate degree from Eastern Mennonite University, followed by a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. In 2000, Joseph and his family were called to Charlottesville where he served at Grace Community Church as Youth Director and Assistant to the Pastor. Joseph first became a Good News volunteer before assuming the role as Chaplain at ACRJ in 2018.

Richard “Van” Van Arsdale ext. 248



Van’s testimony begins in jail, as an inmate. At 20 years old he was sentenced to 9 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. During that time he heard a chaplains presentation of the gospel that God used to catch Van’s attention and change his life. After his release he went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago where he finished a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Ministry Studies. Van, his wife, and their two children, moved to Virginia in May of 2021. They are convinced that God has led them here to work with the ministry at ACRJ. Van has always said that his testimony is not about him, as much as it is about the power of God and the power of this ministry. Yes, he is back in jail, but this time as a chaplain to bring hope to the forgotten. “It is an honor to walk with Christ in such a dark place” (Van).


Michelle Young ext. 269​

​Programming Facilitator (Males & Females)

Michelle has over 20 years of experience working in the criminal justice field; starting her work in a lawyer’s office before transferring to the Charlottesville area Offender Aid and Restoration office, which all led her here to ACRJ. Michelle utilizes her training in De-escalation techniques and Effective Communication & Motivational Strategies along with evidence-based research to support program activities and effectiveness during her course of work. She facilitates all mandatory risk needs programming for the male and female offender population and manages a housing unit of over 50 programming offenders.​

Dianna Wissinger ext.310



Dianna Wissinger graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Education and a minor in Business Administration. She has over 30 years’ experience in education, just not always in the traditional classroom. She taught high school for five years in Fairfax County before moving to Louisville and teaching adults at the Urban League. Dianna also was a coordinator for a literacy league in southeast Indiana. She moved back to Virginia ten years ago and after teaching elementary ages for two years, she transitioned back into teaching adults with the Thomas Jefferson Adult Career Education (TJACE). She started employment with ACRJ in January 2016. She teaches both male and female students in Adult Basic Education and also English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Lisa Hensley ext. 327

Programs Facilitator

Stephanie Kim ext. 321

Programs Specialist

bottom of page