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Health Taskforce

Virginia Ryan

Virginia Ryan has been the in-custody population manager at the Harris County Sheriff’s office since October of 2018. Virginia was selected for this position and recruited from the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s office, New Orleans, where she was the Justice System Administrator (JSA), with the same responsibilities she now has in Harris County. The JSA position had been jointly created by the MacArthur Foundation and the Mayor’s office in New Orleans, originally funded by the Macarthur Safety and Justice Challenge until it became a permanent position in the Sheriff’s budget. The goal of Virginia’s work at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s office was safe reduction of the jail population by 21% in approximately 1 year. While JSA in New Orleans, Virginia successfully and safely reduced the jail population by 32.9% in 1 year and 3 months. This goal was accomplished by: addressing inefficiencies in the booking, processing and release of inmates; reducing over-detention through inmate grievances; and correcting processing deficiencies. Virginia worked with all agency stakeholders to eliminate delays that increased defendants’ lengths of stay by updating existing procedures and processes as well as adding new procedures and processes. In addition, Virginia was also a liaison on behalf of the medical provider in the jail with partner agencies in the community in order to expedite release of severely mentally ill and/or medically disabled inmates. Before joining OPSO, Virginia was the deputy supervisor in the client services division (CSD) at the Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) office. She was responsible for supervising 8 full-time client advocates, 4 full-time fellows and approximately 50 college interns per semester; she scheduled staff to cover 19 shifts of first appearances per week to provide bond advocacy, assigned the 15 full-time CSD staff members to cases upon receiving referrals (for medical, mental health, competency, placement post-jail and other types of advocacy) from attorneys, created and developed outcome and performance measures for the client services division and was a member of the OPD management team. Virginia was also the Operations Coordinator prior to being deputy supervisor for CSD. She was responsible for operations in the Criminal District Court as well as the Municipal Court, doing recruiting, training and supervision for the staff client advocates, full-time fellows and college interns each semester. Prior to being Operations Coordinator, she was the medical and mental health coordinator at OPD. She created a referral system for attorneys to request all direct health/mental health services needed in and out of jail; identified client needs, secure appropriate placement as alternative to incarceration in pre- and post-conviction contexts, met with service providers to create release action plans for clients to reduce recidivism; developed and acted as a critical liaison with Orleans Parish Prison’s medical director establishing a relationship with OPD and OPSO/OPP medical staff to improved safety and medical/mental healthcare of OPD clients. 

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