Jail Getting Crowded, $45.7 Million Expansion Eyed
During a recent meeting at the Old Manassas Courthouse, members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, the Manassas City Council and the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board learned the findings of a Community-Based Corrections Plan which outlined population trends facing the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center (ADC).
Corrections plans, such as the one done for the ADC by Moseley Architects, are mandated by the state to show how jail populations are likely to grow. Jurisdictions must commission the plans and submit them along with a planning study to the Virginia Board of Corrections in order to apply for 50 percent funding from the state to build or expand jails.
The results of the plan showed that the population in the county grew by 40 percent between 2000 and 2010. Increasing populations mean increased arrests, which lead to higher inmate populations.
Col. Pete Meletis, the ADC Superintendent, spoke at the meeting and told the elected leaders that current jail populations have exceeded the state rate of capacity by 100% and peaked out at 158%. During spikes in the count, inmates are transferred, or farmed out, to the Peumansend Creek Regional Jail where the County owns 75 beds and to other jails across the state.
The management capacity, or the number of inmates that can be safely handled at the Manassas complex, is 1,055 inmates. Currently, the ADC state-rated capacity at 667 beds within the ADC complex in Manassas, which brings the double bunking into play, Meletis said. “We’re way over the state-rated capacity. That’s a big gap between 667 and 1,055.”
The plan showed that the inmate population on the Manassas complex is expected to grow to 1,402 by Fiscal 2020 and to 1,817 by fiscal 2028.
Complicating the issue, Meletis said, is a court system that is backed up, which means that inmates stay in the jail longer as they await trial. “With people staying longer at the same time we’re bringing more people in – that’s a bad combination that’s going to bring our counts up. That’s a big factor in what’s happening here.”
During the meeting, the elected officials discussed how the two jurisdictions might cooperate and proceed forward so that money would be in place to complete the $45.7-million jail expansion, which was recommended by Moseley, by 2019.
One of the first steps the City Council and the Board of County Supervisors need to do is send a resolution to the commonwealth stating their intention to expand the ADC. Sending the resolution to the state sets the groundwork for getting the cost of expanding into the state budget. If the two governing bodies submit a combined resolution to the state by July of this year, the governor could approve the funding for inclusion in next year’s budget.
Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish II and Prince William Chairman Corey A. Stewart agreed on the need for an expansion, and they agreed that the Council and the Board need to work together to address the issue.
“It’s one of those things we have to do,” Stewart said.
“We’ve all seen the graphs that indicate that the numbers are going up, and we know Manassas and Prince William County are growing, indicating the need for expansion.” Parrish said.
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