Middle River Regional Jail names new superintendent

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Months after Jack Lee was fired as superintendent of the Middle River Regional Jail and placed under investigation for alleged corruption, the jail will have someone new in charge on June 3.

The Middle River Regional Jail Board voted unanimously in a special meeting on Wednesday to name Jeffery Newton the jail's new superintendent.

Newton served more than 16 years in the U.S. Army before moving into a career in corrections, administrating Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Maine; serving as superintendent for Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk; and directing the Douglas County Department of Corrections in Nebraska.

Most recently, he spent seven years in North Prince George as the superintendent of Riverside Regional Jail, until he retired last December.

“I was not looking for another job; however, the opportunity and professional challenges presented by the vacancy at Middle River Regional Jail caused me to reconsider my decision to retire,” Newton said. “I thoroughly enjoy the day to-day challenges of supervising the operation of a local jail, mentoring staff to enable them to achieve their personal and professional goals and creating an environment that ensures the safe and secure housing of offenders placed in
jail custody by the court. I look forward to working with the board and MRRJ staff to address the immediate challenges of the jail and mapping a future direction that ensures the challenges are addressed in a financially responsible manner.”

Altogether, he has more than 20 years of experience managing correctional facilities, from just under 500 beds to more than 1,500. Middle River has 902.

Newton has a local connection too — he earned his associate's degree in law enforcement from Blue Ridge Community College before getting a bachelor's degree in law enforcement from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master's degree in education from Boston University.

“We are grateful for the interest of other competent candidates that had numerous strengths to bring to the position,” said Timothy Fitzgerald, chairman of MRRJ Authority Board. “After examining the breadth and depth of experience Mr. Newton offers, the board is confident that he is the right person to take the baton at this juncture and bring the required stability, integrity and leadership to our facility.”

Jack Lee, the former superintendent, was fired in December after nearly a decade and half in the role.

He was placed on administrative leave before the firing, and months afterward, search warrants were issued for his Staunton home due to an investigation into whether he used an inmate for housework.

The jail serves Waynesboro, Staunton and Harrisonburg cities, and Augusta, Highland and Rockingham counties. Its database indicates around 945 inmates are currently jailed.