While the rate of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County residents incarcerated at the local jail and Middle River Regional Jail has remained fairly flat since 2014, the city is having to cover the cost of more state inmates who have no connection to this community but are being housed at the regional jail.
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.
Members of the Harrisonburg City Council expressed concerns about and, in some cases, outright opposition to a proposed expansion of the Middle River Regional Jail as the jail’s leader made his pitch Tuesday night. While the council didn’t take any vote on the issue, the discussion signaled that jail officials might have an uphill climb to convince Harrisonburg to kick as much as $1.2 million more a year for the city’s share of a nearly $40 million expansion.
If the $96.5 million expansion plan that the Middle River Regional Jail Authority Board just submitted to the state becomes reality, Harrisonburg’s share of the cost would total $9.8 million, according to city staff. As one of five member jurisdictions of the regional jail authority, Harrisonburg funds the jail’s operational and capital costs based on its share of the total inmate population.
Strength in Peers — the resource center devoted to helping people recover from substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness — opened a new location in Luray last week as it seeks to expand its reach across the Valley.
At its meeting earlier this month, the Middle River Regional Jail (MRRJ) Authority Board voted to proceed with a facility planning study that will evaluate options for expanding the jail in Verona.