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.
Dan Myers steps out of his white Ford F-350 and onto the muddy ground just as the morning light begins to illuminate his family’s dairy farm, Walkup Holsteins. In the partially-covered pavilion in front of him, more than 30 pregnant dry cows lay on beds of straw and wood shavings. At the milking parlor on the other side of the farm, Dan’s wife Charlotte, 77, and their daughter Teresa Callender, 53, are around halfway through milking the cows, a process that they started just after 5 a.m.
For the first time since Gerald Ford was president, Harrisonburg’s estimated population has decreased – if only ever so slightly. According to figures just released by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center, Harrisonburg’s July 1, 2018 population was an estimated 54,606. That’s 83 fewer people than the July 1, 2017 estimate of 54,689, a decrease of 0.2 percent.
Even though available childcare remains scarce around Harrisonburg, only nine applications for special permits to expand child-care facilities have been filed in the city and Rockingham County since 2015.
“Residentially impaired” is how Dylan Thompson describes his living situation at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. The church rotates with 15 other places of worship in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County that take in homeless guests as part of Open Doors.