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.
The number of people sent to jail has outpaced a 2014 forecast. The local jail population peaked well over 600 last year, seven years earlier than predicted in the 2014 community-based corrections plan. And no one can agree on why.
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.
Vice Mayor Sal Romero said he hopes to present a proposal to the rest of council next month to introduce translation services at city council meetings and potentially other city services.
While the local jail population continues to grow, the record-keeping systems used by law enforcement, the courts and other pieces of the local criminal justice system remain stuck in the past, complicating efforts to understand what’s driving that population growth or to begin addressing it. Within a year, however, new insight into local criminal justice trends could be coming from two different sources.