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Video system delays trouble regional jail

Russell Gilkison, interim superintendent for the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail, speaks to the jail authority board during its meeting on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL-- The regional jail may not have been as ready as needed when it opened, the superintendent said Thursday.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority Board's Finance and Personnel Committee heard from acting Superintendent Russ Gilkison on Thursday about work to address problems at the facility on U.S. 340-522. The full board heard the same report at its meeting on Thursday.

The most significant problem - the video systems for the magistrate and the courts - has not been fixed. The jail continues to struggle to get service into the building for its video arraignment system, Gilkison told the committee.

"Whatever the circumstances were, you know, the building wasn't at the point where it should have been that we could have gotten these systems in," Gilkison said. "We're working through that."

The Supreme Court of Virginia's information technology department is in charge of setting up the system usually through a provider such as Verizon, Gilkison said.

"That's where the hold up has been, is getting Verizon to get that service to the right location," Gilkison said. "They have worked diligently to try to correct that issue with Verizon with no success."

The department plans to try working with Comcast to see if it can get the magistrate system online then bring up the service for the courts. The department does not have an estimated time when that will happen, Gilkison said.

"Without that video system it has caused some struggles, a lot of transports occurring," Gilkison said. "The quicker we can get this in here the better it's gonna be."

The relocation of the Intoxilyzer from the Warren County Sheriff's Office to the jail shouldn't happen until the video system for the magistrate goes online, Gilkison said.

The jail also needs to wait for the Virginia State Police to install equipment so the facility can connect to the Virginia Criminal Information Network, Gilkison said. The jail needed to be certified before it could order equipment and the state could not begin connecting to the network until the facility became operational. In the meantime, the jail is working with the sheriffs' offices to obtain criminal history information. The jail also can't use the electronic fingerprint system until it connects to the network.

"It's a domino effect," Gilkison said.

Board Chairman Doug Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, asked Gilkison to explain the situation that arose with inmate uniforms. The jail needed to return some of the uniforms that bore the initials RWS instead of RSW. There were also problems with color and size as well. Inmates received one set of uniforms as they transferred into the new jail. The first shipment of uniforms with the errors arrived only a couple of days before inmates began to move in, Gilkison said.

"Nobody was aware," Gilkison said.

The jail had to clean laundry more frequently than usual. The jail ordered more inmate uniforms to help correct the problem, Gilkison told the committee.

"But we are not requiring inmates to wear dirty clothes day in, day out, day in, day out," Gilkison said. "The supplier was very apologetic."

Stanley noted that supplier plans to correct the uniforms at its own expense.

"All four of these things slow us down, make us less user friendly," Stanley said. "You almost had to be here before you could get the stuff moved over."

Gilkison agreed, noting that the jail needed to have control of the facility before it could have the systems installed. Stanley said the authority got control of the facility shortly before loading prisoners into the jail at the end of June.

At both the committee and board meetings, members met in closed session to discuss the hiring of a permanent superintendent and to get legal advice from authority's attorney Bill Hefty on an existing contract with a vendor. The name of the vendor or what it supplies to the jail was not disclosed.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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