RSW Regional Jail: This bed is for rent

Russ Gilkison, superintendent of the Rappahannock Shenandoah and Warren Regional Jail in Front Royal, speaks to a reporter during a recent interview. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail in Warren County is bringing in extra revenue by renting out available bed space.

Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison said the jail took in about $121,000 of extra revenue by renting out jail space to two other local law enforcement agencies from August 2017 to March.

First priority for bed space goes to inmates received from Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties, which pay the jail based on the number of inmates incarcerated. Last year, they paid $7,591,702 to the jail.

If the jail has the staff available, whatever bed space is available is then opened up and rented to regional jails in Prince William and Page counties if they are overcrowded.

Gilkison is in talks with officials from another county about renting bed space to them.

“It’s an avenue some regional jails are turning to reduce costs,” Gilkison said.

“They are looking for other reasonably priced beds while still keeping inmates as close as possible for family, for transport for trial dates and for attorney-client access,” he said.

The jail can hold up to 560 inmates. As of Monday morning, the jail population was at  370 inmates.

Each bed rents for $33 a day. That is charged to the requesting county and includes feeding the inmate three meals a day, Gilkeson said.

The jail also directly charges each inmate, who can afford it, $2 a day for the bed. Virginia allows jails to charge inmates a $3-a-day housing fee, Gilkison said.

The extra revenue from inmates from Prince William and Page counties does not stop with the bed.

The $121,000 figure of extra revenue also includes each use of  the phone by inmates, purchases from the commissary, when they get a prescription filled and other medical charges.

Gilkison has proposed to the jail authority that he be allowed to rent out an additional 60 to 90 more beds. This plan would potentially add up to $1,980 to $2,970 per day in revenue, depending on the number of beds rented out.

He said he feels the jail can accommodate adding that number of inmates without having to hire additional staff.

This additional money goes into the jail’s general fund and reduces the amount that Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren counties have to contribute, Gilkison noted.

He explained that when the jail opened in 2014, it had been designed so that bed space could be rented out to other counties. Renting space begin in August 2017, about five months after Gilkison took over the position of superintendent. He said staffing levels and the inexperience of the staff just starting at the new jail were reasons for the delay in starting the rentals.