Richmond, Va., will build a new jail after years of neglecting its aging, overcrowded facility, says the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mayor L. Douglas Wilder says he favors a commission recommendation to build a new jail housing 1,600 to 2,000 inmates. Richmond City Jail now crams more than 1,500 men and women in a space meant for 882. A Times-Dispatch series last year found scores of inmates routinely sleeping on the floor because there are no beds. They live in bullpens designed for about 50 but that routinely house 150 men in violent, unsanitary conditions.
The new facility likely will cost $60 to $80 million, though the state and federal governments could cover much of the cost, Sheriff C.T. Woody said. Woody, who credited the Times-Dispatch series for raising interest in replacing the jail, said plans call for a new facility to be built next to and over the current jail. Richmond is talking to other jurisdictions about a possible regional jail, as well as trhe U.S. Marshals Service. The marshals are interested in a detention facility and could help provide funds for the new jail. In the meantime, Woody and Wilder are working with judges, pretrial services officials and prosecutors to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders doing time. “Thirty to 40 percent of the people in here don’t need to be here,” Woody said.