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 Monday evening, Police Chief Eric English will introduce himself, take questions and talk about policing in Harrisonburg at a public meeting at Thomas Harrison Middle School.
“A lot of people still have not met me,” said English, who was sworn in as Harrisonburg’s police chief last September. “I’ll talk about my philosophy and some things that we’ve already implemented, [as well as] things I’m looking to do going forward.”
Creating a community justice planner position — a major priority for activists, including the groups Valley Justice Coalition and Faith in Action — won’t happen until July 2019 at the earliest, if it happens at all.
Members of the Community Criminal Justice Board said during Monday’s meeting that they mostly agree with the goals of data analysis but still have to figure out if it warrants adding a new government-funded job.
As some in Harrisonburg call for criminal justice reforms, debate over a fee in local jails has opened up wider conversations about how best to help those caught up in the legal system.
Community members seeking criminal justice reform are asking the city to create a new government position: Community Justice Planner. The Community Justice Planner would be a government official whose job it is to gather data and give elected officials informed advice on how to improve the way the criminal justice system works.