RSW jail authority in talks with Page County

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority has begun negotiations with Page County that could lead to the county joining the jail authority.

Jail authority chairman Douglas Stanley confirmed Wednesday that negotiations began about a month ago.

In an email sent earlier, Stanley said Page County had asked for “additional data to consider as part of their review, and we are in the process of gathering that data.”

“I would expect there to be ongoing dialogue back-and-forth between RSW and Page and our various project consultants over the next several months,” Stanley said.

The jail authority has been discussing for months the possibility of adding Page County as a member. Those portions of the meetings have been closed and members have refused to say what, if anything, had been decided behind closed doors.

Stanley said in an interview Wednesday that the jail authority had informally decided in one of the closed sessions to begin negotiating with Page County. He said no formal votes have been taken so far and no agreements have been made with Page.

Each county represented on the jail authority would have to obtain approval from its Board of Supervisors to amend the existing jail authority service agreement before Page County would be allowed to join, Stanley said.

“If things move ahead, you’ll be hearing from us or Page County, one way or another,” Stanley said.

Stanley said there was no timeline for completing the negotiations. He had no further comment.

Page County officials broached the idea of joining the jail authority at a meeting in January. Supervisor Keith Guzy and Sheriff John Thomas asked the authority to consider a partnership that would allow Page County to trade female prisoners in Page County’s jail for male prisoners in the RSW jail. Page County is not certified to house female inmates and has been paying the the Middle River Regional Jail in Staunton $38 per day to house each female inmate there.

The RSW Regional Jail was built for 20 or 30 years of growth, a timetable that could be accelerated by the addition of inmates from Page County, which is projected to have an average daily population at Middle River of 125 over the next 20 years.

Guzy said in January that the extra money paid to the jail authority as a result of housing inmates from Page County could allow the authority to build an addition to the jail “interest free.”

Jail authority members told Thomas and Guzy they would respond to their overture by July 1.

Guzy said in interview Wednesday that he was pleased with the response from the jail authority, but he stopped short of describing the interactions as full-fledged negotiations. Guzy said the contacts have been “very preliminary” and limited so far to “exchanging information.”

“We are not in negotiations,” Guzy said. “That would be a little preliminary and a little soon. We’ve had one closed session meeting with the jail authority. We’re excited they responded to us, and we would like to look at multiple options.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com