City Council to Address Jail Overcrowding

By: Brendan Ponton Email
By: Brendan Ponton Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The Harrisonburg City Council will be discussing overcrowding at the Rockingham County Jail during Tuesday night's meeting.

The first step is to decide whether to move forward on a study, along with the county, to look at alternatives, including possibly expanding the jail.

Currently, there are more than 350 inmates at the jail, which is about 40 more than the capacity when they double bunk them, according to Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson. He also said that the number of inmates continues to grow. Rockingham County shares the jail with the City of Harrisonburg.

In addition, more than 100 people are at Middle River Regional Jail as a back-up.

Khalid Sheffield contacted WHSV from the inside the jail with a hand written note, saying the overcrowding is forcing him to sleep on a cot because there aren't enough beds. He is currently in jail facing child abuse charges after he was arrested last fall when police said they found two kids in the back of a Uhaul truck he was traveling in with another woman.

Richard Baugh, a city councilman, said Sheffield's story shows the problem.

"If you were looking at something that somebody had to sleep on a cot one night because there was some overcrowding and it never happened again that would be one thing, but you're absolutely right, the concerns we're having are that it's becoming more and more the norm, which is exactly how you know you're overcrowded," said Baugh.

If city leaders do decide to move forward on the study, the cost would be split equally between the city and county.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.


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