The Harrisonburg city council ratcheted up pressure on the Rockingham County sheriff regarding the $1-a-day “keep fee” at the local jail. After a lengthy discussion about wording and efficacy, the council unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday evening to formally ask Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson to “examine the possibility of eliminating the $1-day jail fee.”
Harrisonburg’s total cost to prosecute, try and incarcerate people has risen by $1.8 million – roughly 29 percent – over the past five years, according to city finance documents.
A tiny fraction of the proposed $274 million city budget amounts to a big deal for community groups that have been calling for reforms in the local criminal justice system.
Council members offered support at Tuesday’s meeting to a civic project memorializing Charlotte Harris, a victim of a public lynching in Harrisonburg 141 years ago.
On Saturday, more than 100 rallied downtown in support of eliminating the jail keep fee and hiring a community justice planner. On Monday, newly elected Community Criminal Justice Board chairman (and Harrisonburg City Councilman) Chris Jones spoke in favor of the justice planner, but said keep fee is the sheriff’s call.