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Regionalization in Virginia Jails

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 5 Issue: 5 Dated: (November-December 1991) Pages: 42-45
M J Leibowitz
Date Published
4 pages
Virginia law allows any combination of two or more counties or cities to establish and operate a regional jail. To receive maximum State reimbursement for construction facilities or renovation of old ones, equal to half the costs, three or more jurisdictions must participate.
In practical terms, the cost savings for the capital construction of a new regional jail are economically staggering. As a result, there are currently 12 regional jails in Virginia, representing 24 counties and 11 cities. Seven of the regional jails are managed by superintendents, and four others are operated by the sheriffs of one of the participating jurisdictions. Superintendents answer to Regional Jail Boards or Regional Jail Authorities; Regional Jail Authorities can issue revenue bonds without holding a voter referendum. The participating jurisdictions fund the facility's operation on a pro rata basis and the costs of housing local inmates are borne by the individual jurisdictions. To receive the State reimbursement, the regional jail's plan for long-term personnel cost efficiency and construction standards must be approved by the State. Regionalization also offers cost savings in long-term operating costs by eliminating replication of services of a number of jurisdictions and combining them into one operation. As a result of shrinking State funding, the regional jail concept is attractive as a viable, cost-efficient alternative for adult detention needs.


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