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Middle River Jail authority board holds off on vote for possible expansion

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - On Tuesday afternoon, the Middle River Regional Jail Authority Board held its quarterly meeting and in order to give more local officials time for input on a possible expansion, the board held off on a vote.

The meeting started off with Stephen King, chairman of the board, addressing those in attendance there would be no action taken on potential projects or expansion.

“There’s not a single member of this Middle River Jail Board who wants to do an addition or expansion,” King said after the meeting. “We don’t want to there’s no desire to do that but the reality is what’s driving what we feel compelled to do at some point. We are all in favor of doing the alternative programs we can that can reduce numbers.”

Five jurisdictions all use the jail and King said they are waiting on other local leaders to have the chance to check out the facility before any decision is made.

He said he knows four out of the five Rockingham County Supervisors have had the chance to tour the facility and members of Harrisonburg City Council have as well with more members planned to tour this Friday.

A presentation on the budget for the jail, however, was given and approved at close to $26,000,000 for next year and an update was given on the vaccinations efforts at the jail.

Officials said as of Tuesday, 40% of staff have been vaccinated and 48% of inmates have received a vaccine. The jail also reported having 801 inmates with 745 incarcerated inside the facility with 54 serving some sort of house arrest.

“It’s extremely crowded and as you heard in the presentation in there, the roof damage is due to people on the top of the third bunk pushing the ceiling with their feet and so that’s the crowding level we’re dealing with,” King said.

A vote on a possible expansion will not happen until the board’s June 1 meeting until then King said they plan to continue to rent more beds in other facilities.

During the meeting, the board reported 35 inmates are now being housed at the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover County.

“We hope that number does not increase over time, there are opportunities that some people have touched on for us to reduce the flow coming in and we continue those opportunities,” King said. " Drug court, reentry coordinator, our crisis intervention team: that’s up in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area and I’m sure Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro have similar programs here.”

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