Head of re­gional jail to re­sign at end of year

For­mer prose­cu­tor took job two years ago, ush­ered in se­ries of prison con­di­tion re­forms

Daily Press - - Local News - By Steve Roberts Jr Staff writer

JAMES CITY COUNTY — The head of the Vir­ginia Penin­sula Re­gional Jail has re­signed, ef­fec­tive at the end of the year.

Tony Pham, 46, of Hen­rico, took the job about two years ago af­ter a ca­reer as a prose­cu­tor. He ush­ered in a se­ries of re­forms meant to im­prove con­di­tions for cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers and in­mates. Pham also took the helm of the jail as it con­tin­ued to face law­suits al­leg­ing mal­treat­ment of in­mates.

“I’m very grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity,” Pham said on Mon­day. “How many times do lawyers get the chance to go from lit­i­ga­tion to man­age­ment?”

Pham worked to cre­ate an ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery pro­gram called by in­mates “We Are In This To­gether,” as well as tech­no­log­i­cal im­prove­ments to give in­mates more ac­cess to their homes through the use of tablets and work­places through an an­kle mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem.

At the same time, VPRJ con­tin­ued to be sued for cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers’ con­duct at the jail. The jail has re­but­ted claims that it should be li­able for sex­ual as­saults against in­mates that a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer, Henry Thomas Rhim, was con­victed of in Novem­ber 2018.

Pham told The Vir­ginia Gazette in April he had in­sti­tuted changes at the jail and sought to in­ves­ti­gate claims of abuse put for­ward by in­mates. Two months later, James City County Po­lice

Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors charged a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer with sex­ual bat­tery and hav­ing car­nal knowl­edge of an in­mate af­ter the jail pro­vided in­ves­ti­ga­tors all of the ma­te­rial it had col­lected in­ter­nally. Charges filed against the of­fi­cer were later dropped by pros­e­cu­tors.

Pham said he was re­sign­ing to spend time with his fam­ily.

“We are sad­dened to see Tony leave. His ten­ure there of about two years has done won­der­ful things at the jail and for the in­mates there,” York-Po­qu­o­son Sher­iff Danny Diggs said. “We are very sad to see him leave. He has a real com­mit­ment to his fam­ily and I ap­plaud him to have that kind of con­vic­tion to his fam­ily.”

Diggs, the chair­man of the jail’s eight mem­ber jail au­thor­ity, said the board of di­rec­tors had re­ceived 13 ap­pli­ca­tions for the po­si­tion and it is in the process of in­ter­view­ing six of the ap­pli­cants.

“We al­ways hope for any­one who brings a fresh per­spec­tive,” Diggs said. “There’s room for im­prove­ment in any or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

STEVE ROBERTS JR/STAFF

Vir­ginia Penin­sula Re­gion Jail Su­per­in­ten­dent Tony Pham says he is re­sign­ing with the goal of spend­ing more time with his fam­ily.

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