The Rockingham County Jail is already at double its capacity and the sheriff is ready to do something about it. The overcrowding issues go back years.
Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said the problem is the city and county are growing in population, but the jail is still the same size.
Sheriff Hutcheson works at the county jail and he sees overcrowding on a daily basis.
“We're definitely going to need to do something, and we're going to plan accordingly,” said Sheriff Hutcheson.
Several county, city and state officials met Monday to talk about reducing overcrowding.
The jail is rated to hold 208 inmates, but if they fit people two in a room, that number goes up to 315. They have broken the record for inmates, topping out at 389. That was when the overcrowding talks started.
"It's a very cramped situation, and it can very easily become an unsafe one. So it's something where we're at that boiling point where we need to do something where we need to resolve it and ease that pressure from within.”
Overcrowding means inmates head to Augusta County's Middle River Regional Jail, but that can cost you money.
It costs taxpayers about $60 a day to keep each inmate behind bars, but because of overcrowding, that number has gone up by 30 to 40-percent. It means that taxpayers are paying up to $85 per day instead.
Rockingham County Board of Supervisors member Pablo Cuevas attended the meeting because taxpayers will pay for that extra fee to move inmates.
"We don't have anybody to pass along those responsibilities to. It becomes very costly and inefficient for us," said Cuevas. "We want to find better ways to meet those challenges for the betterment of everyone concerned."
Sheriff Hutcheson said some inmates sleep on mattresses on the floor. That started the overcrowding conversation.
"There's only so much you can do,” said Sheriff Hutcheson. “Something's going to have to give. We really are at that breaking point."
The Rockingham County Jail uses Middle River Regional Jail as a short-term backup to overcrowding. The long-term plan includes introducing more rehabilitation programs. Those programs would try to keep down repeat offenders from coming back to jail.
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