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Decision Postponed on ICE Notifying System at ACRJ

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The ACRJ board met on Thursday to discuss its ICE notification system. The ACRJ board met on Thursday to discuss its ICE notification system.
The board wants to explore the possibility of using the VINE system. The board wants to explore the possibility of using the VINE system.
Most public comment inside the meeting was for the current system of notifying ICE. Most public comment inside the meeting was for the current system of notifying ICE.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A controversial issue focused on undocumented inmates in the Albemarle -Charlottesville Regional Jail took a surprising turn on Thursday. 

The board was expected to make a decision on whether or not to continue to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the release dates on inmates who are undocumented immigrants. Instead, the ACRJ board is exploring another option and delaying a decision.

The Victim Information and Notification Everyday system is a national database with all inmates’ information and anyone who signs up for the notifications has access to that person’s status, including when they are being released. 

The board plans to ask ICE if it can communicate through that system, but the system is not very compatible with the jail’s system at this time. Until the system is repaired, a decision will be postponed.

“Back in December, we changed over to the new jail management system, and that system is not communicating very effectively right now with the VINE system,” said ACRJ superintendent Martin Kumer said.

At Thursday’s meeting, Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding motioned to keep notifying ICE. Instead of a vote, Kumer and the rest of the board discussed an option not already thought of. 

“We weren’t really looking for other notification options,” Kumer said. “It came up last week that maybe we can notify in a different way.”

The current policy states that when an undocumented person is taken into custody, their data is sent to several law enforcement agencies, including ICE. Then, ICE has the legal right to come and determine if the inmate is a threat.

The controversial part is that if ICE does determine an inmate is a threat, it asks the jail to voluntarily notify it 48 hours before they are released, which ACRJ currently does.

“The notifications that this jail is actively offering to ICE are something that they don’t offer to other law enforcement agencies unless they have a criminal warrant,” said attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center Deena Sharuk. “So the question really is; are we going to do ICE’s job for them?”

People on both sides of the issue came out to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. Many who spoke said they are upset that a decision is being dragged out. 

“Some members of the community see this as a public safety [issue], while others see this as a social issue,” Kumer said.

The debate first opened nine months ago, and the soonest a decision will be made is at the board's next meeting in November.