Faith in Action celebrates criminal justice reform success

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The 24 member congregation called Faith in Action says it works together to effect change in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham community.

Faith in Action celebrates their successes after their 2018 campaign for criminal justice reform.

The organization voted to work on three key issues of local criminal justice reform about a year ago.

Faith in Action wants to eliminate the $1/$3 per-day keep fees charged to people incarcerated in the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Regional and Middle River Regional Jails.

Members also want the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to jointly hire a Community Justice Planner and engage in an open selection process for hiring the Planner.

Finally, Faith in Action wants to establish protocols for all juvenile justice cases to be screened for a restorative justice process.

So far, the campaign has resulted in the City and County funding the Community Justice Planner position in their 2019-2020 budgets. The elimination of the keep fee at the local jail is the discretion of Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson. Research during the campaign indicated that other communities are finding creative ways to eliminate these fees.

"City council is reiterating their word to Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson to eliminate the daily fee that is charged to families of persons who are incarcerated," says Jennifer Davis Sensenig, President of Faith in Action.

A resolution passed by Harrisonburg City Council directs the City Manager to continue working with the County Administrator to address the disproportionate amount of keep fees that incarcerated women are paying who have been relocated to Middle River during the renovations at the local jail.

The group said they know there is still more work to be done, but they are happy with the progress they have made so far.