VA To Rent 1,000 Prison Beds; Sheriffs, ACLU Critical


Virginia’s cash-strapped government plans to rent 1,000 prison beds to other states to raise millions of dollars while it leaves hundreds of its own inmates in crowded local jails waiting to be moved, the Washington Post reports. The decision angers sheriffs who already house hundreds of prisoners for the state for a fraction of the actual cost. “It’s ludicrous,” said Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry, who has 100 state inmates in his jail. “They are forcing me to house their prisoners. They clearly have the space. It’s all a money-making proposition.”

The Department of Corrections, the largest agency in the state, with 13,000 employees, expects to make up for at least $40 million in cuts by renting out 1,000 beds. Corrections director Gene Johnson said he probably would have to lay off employees or close facilities if not for the out-of-state prisoners. Virginia began renting out prison beds a decade ago but largely abandoned the practice several years after two Connecticut inmates died and human rights groups lodged complaints of excessive force. Elizabeth Alexander, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, called the new plan to take out-of-state inmates “a recipe for disaster. “Virginia runs among the worst, most brutal prisons in the country.”


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