Voting to fund a new justice planner position, as the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County did earlier this year, was just step one. Now, City Manager Eric Campbell, County Administrator Stephen King and their respective staffs are playing administrative catch as they make good on that promise by actually developing a job description and hiring someone to do it.
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.