Pierre Mbala and two friends were headed to get pizza on an overcast, chilly Thursday in late March, 2018. On the way, they stopped at a convenience store for a soda or maybe some candy, and to taste the freedom that comes with being 17.
Harrisonburg police officers on Wednesday plan to mingle with residents in the neighborhood surrounding the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter on Jefferson Street off of North Main Street in what will be the police department’s first “community walk” event of 2019. But some organizations in the area approached the community walk idea cautiously.
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.
The Middle River Regional Jail Authority took a first step this week toward expanding its overcrowded facility in Verona, by voting unanimously to hire Moseley Architects to conduct a needs assessment for the jail. The move comes as jail officials have warned that overcrowding in the jail is having a ripple effect on both the facilities’ budget and infrastructure.
As Harrisonburg Police Chief Eric English outlined his policing philosophies and answered questions from about 30 community members at his first town hall meeting Monday, he kept returning to a central theme.