SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WVIR) - Middle River Regional Jail’s Superintendent laid out expansion plans to Augusta County Supervisors Wednesday night during a board meeting in Verona.
The jail also serves Staunton, Waynesboro, Rockingham County, and Harrisonburg. And, it is out of space.
The number of inmates has grown since the jail opened in 2006 which requires more beds. But, it also means increasing requirements when it comes to treating mental health, substance abuse, and providing medical care.
Built for 396 inmates, Jail Superintendent Jeffery Newton says Middle River, at times, has exceeded 1,000 inmates, including those who belong in the state prison system.
“Well I can tell you that we have a number of folks in our custody today that belong in the department of corrections, about 250,” said Newton.
“A do-nothing option is really at this point, not an option,” stated Augusta County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald. “We are over capacity and have been for some time.”
The $40 million plan that’s on the table includes renovating the 15-year old jail, expanding support services like medical, food service, and laundry, and a new warehouse. It would also add two mental health units, community corrections housing for work release inmates, and minimum security beds for a total of 352 additional beds.
“This potential proposal doesn’t address the authority’s need for 1,283 beds in 2029. It only gets you halfway there,” stated Newton. “So, we need to do some pretty radical justice reform if we’re not going to be talking about an expansion again in 10 years.”
The Middle River Regional Jail Authority Board meets on February 2 and is expected to decide on this option.
The total cost to the county would be $2.8 million a year, included in the 2024 budget. The same budget that would include the Augusta County Courthouse according to Fitzgerald.
Right now, the jail project is not included in the Governor’s proposed budget.
The next steps include finalizing plans and design for the expansion, seeking approval from the General Assembly for reimbursement of 25% of the cost, and securing financing options.