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Virginia Organizing holds car rally in opposition of proposed jail expansion

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 7:38 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia Organizing held a car rally in opposition of the proposed expansion of Middle River Regional Jail. During the event community members voiced concerns about the project and gave ideas for other solutions.

“We want to feature stories from inmates and their families to give people that may not necessarily have a personal connection to the system, a little bit of an idea of how incarceration in our local area has affected some of our local family members,” Anna Cubbage explained in a Zoom interview prior to the event.

Cubbage’s husband is incarcerated and she has been formerly incarcerated at Middle River Regional Jail.

“We need members of the public to be involved in this decision-making process because they are the ones that are affected by it,” Cubbage added.

The current expansion plan proposed involves a combination of expansion and improvement. Total project costs are around $40 million and if accepted, would be covered by both state and local funding.

The project requires approval from the various jurisdictions around the Shenandoah Valley including Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Rockingham and Augusta County. Four out of the five need to vote in favor of the project for it to move forward.

The Jail Authority board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 6. Jail Authority Board chairman, Stephen King says the issue is on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting but it is not guaranteed the board will reach a consensus.

“At some point, a decision is going to have to be made on whether to move with the project or not,” King explained. “The longer we delay that, the more the expense of renting beds and operationally the problem with the core facility not meeting the existing needs continues.”

Cubbage said Monday’s rally is to give the community a chance to be heard.

“The way that our incarceration rate has slowly- not slowly, steadily risen, People need to be concerned about that, about their kids, about what kind of community you want your children to grow up in. What kind of image our community wants to portray to the rest of Virginia and the country,” Cubbage added.

Members of Virginia Organizing, Stop Middle River Jail Expansion, Communities Against Middle River Jail Expansion and local leaders have pointed to alternative programs and options to addressing jail overcrowding.

“This is going to be a community effort, this is not just depending on law enforcement and commonwealth’s attorneys to figure this stuff out, everyone needs to play a hand in fixing the current mess that we are in,” Cubbage said.

The car rally began at 6:30 on Monday night, Cubbage encourages people to arrive onto Technology Drive at 6:00 p.m. She said not to park in the MRRJ parking lot. You can find more information on the event and from Virginia Organizing by clicking here.

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