BRUNSWICK COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A large group of inmates were transferred out of Lawrenceville Correctional Center Wednesday as the prison’s private owners prepare for a “multi-year renovation project.”

According to the Virginia Department of Corrections, over 200 inmates were transferred from the facility to other prisons across the commonwealth. The transfers, which represent over ten percent of the facility’s 1,468 inmates, left one housing unit empty so that it could be renovated “to improve safety and security.”

Lawrenceville, which is the only privately run prison in Virginia, has faced intense scrutiny over drug overdoses and inmate violence. An 8News investigation in 2021 found that the GEO Group, which manages the prison, was routinely understaffed and in violation of its contract with the state corrections agency.

Once renovations on the first unit are completed, VDOC said the process would be repeated for the remaining units.

Criminal justice reform advocates have pushed for years to end the GEO Group’s contract, but the most recent effort was defeated in 2021.