The Virgin Islands government has transferred 66 male inmates to the U.S. mainland to improve security at a prison that federal officials have said is out of control.

The transfer of inmates from the Golden Grove prison on the island of St. Croix to prisons in Virginia and Florida was planned months before the federal government requested to take over the prison, Gov. John de Jongh said in a statement late Friday.

"By moving some of our prisoners to off-island institutions, we can continue to improve conditions at Golden Grove," he said.

The families of the transferred inmates will be notified in coming days and will be able to talk with them via teleconferencing, de Jongh said.

On June 9, the U.S. Justice Department requested receivership of Golden Grove prison, accusing the local government of ignoring 25 years worth of court orders to improve what it says are dangerous and deplorable conditions.

Golden Grove prison houses roughly 400 inmates.