Author: Randi B. Hagi
People reported fewer crimes overall in Harrisonburg over the last year. And fewer defendants stayed in jail as they awaited trial. At the same time, though, many of those trials have been delayed, forcing the courts to put in overtime in order to catch up on the backlog of cases. Harrisonburg and Rockingham County’s criminal justice system — like many facets of life — has operated a little differently since the pandemic began, in some cases prompting prosecutors and judges to adapt and make exceptions they wouldn’t normally do.
As Middle River Regional Jail and its inmates continue navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, some inmates and people formerly incarcerated in the jail are speaking out about what they call unsanitary conditions and inadequate health care.
More elementary and middle school students will be back in city classrooms in a month, after the Harrisonburg School Board voted unanimously in a special meeting Tuesday to approve the next phase of the division’s reopening plan.
Charles Kelly was arrested for the last time in August 2001. He’d been incarcerated for a few different stints over the years because of his cocaine and heroin addictions. This time, he had a two-year sentence to serve – the final six months of which he spent at Gemeinschaft Home in Harrisonburg, a therapeutic residential program for those under court supervision or leaving incarceration.
When school bells ring Monday morning, they’ll signal the beginning of in-person classes for the most students inside Harrisonburg school buildings since the pandemic began.
Every morning, Jennie Amison gets buzzed through the gate at work and walks down the red-tiled staircase and past the payphone to get to her office. At 9 a.m., her group session begins, and she leads 11 men through cognitive behavioral therapy exercises to get at the root of their drug use.
The Harrisonburg City Council is updating its ordinance to direct businesses and residents to separate recyclable materials — such as cardboard, cans and certain plastics — from their trash. The city has left open the option of curbside recycling since discontinuing it in 2015 but has no plans to resume that service anytime soon.