Letter to the Editor: Use county jail for work release center


The Shenandoah County jail could be used as a work release center. This would solve the transportation issue for local law enforcement and do no further harm to our local economy by adding resources just for transportation.

State representatives have indicated this type of facility would receive state funding and would not require transport to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail for most arrestees.

Benefits: allow first court appearances, DUI and those waiting for bail to be housed locally without the need for transportation. Work release inmates pay court fines and costs, room and board and child support. For partial use of the jail, purchase a heat pump and use funds available through current inmate programs, not taxpayer money.

For the work release option the following must occur: update the community based corrections plan, receive Department of Corrections and Compensation Board approval with funding restored through the state budget process. Because none of the above actions have been taken, the county jail does not qualify for state funding. This option can still be requested by simply completing the paperwork.

A lock-up would receive no state funding and inmates must be transferred to regional jail within 12 hours of their arrest. You may be just dropping them off at the regional jail only to turn around and bring them back to Shenandoah County for court. A lock-up would be open 24 hours and could hold circuit court inmates.

A lock-up would require a letter from the county board stating its intent to use the county jail. This too, has not been done. The Department of Corrections recommended continued use of the Shenandoah County jail because of the transportation burden on local law enforcement. The department did not say which option to use, because that is a county decision. The county board decided to close the jail permanently without discussing this with local law enforcement. Once again, our county board has not done its “due diligence” while continuing to conduct county business behind closed doors. Communication and information sharing is critical when making decisions that affect everyone in our county.

Cindy Bailey, Woodstock