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Middle River Regional Jail Seeks State Approval for Renovation Plans

Randi B. Hagi

The Middle River Regional Jail's authority board is working towards renovating the facility since expansion plans stalled out earlier this year.

Jail Superintendent Jeffery Newton told the authority board in a meeting on Tuesday that he expects to receive an updated Community Based Corrections Plan from Moseley Architects next week. That document will guide the renovation plans they submit to the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails, hoping for that body's approval in  November.

The jail currently has 719 inmates in-house, and another 44 being monitored on home electronic incarceration. One of the factors that's consistently raised the number of people held at the jail is a backlog of those who are awaiting transfer to a Virginia Department of Corrections facility -- a.k.a prison.

JEFFERY NEWTON: We've transferred 44 to the Department of Corrections here after a lot of work on staff's part to get the Department of Corrections to do that. They've promised us that they're going to get back to a regular, routine transfer schedule.

Newton said that was two weeks ago, though, so the supposed routine schedule remains unclear. In the past, the jail has at times rented beds at other facilities, such as Pamunkey Regional Jail. Newton said they are currently not renting any beds, but they did just sign a memorandum of understanding with the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail should they seek bed rentals there in the future.

Another challenge the jail faces is being significantly understaffed.

NEWTON: We went the entire month of September with zero applications.

There are currently 35 open positions for officers and two for nurses.  I'm Randi B. Hagi.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.
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