Page County to save $300,000 over next five years through jail lease agreement with MRRJ

Page News and Courier

LURAY ― The county is on track to save about $300,000 over the course of five years after negotiating a contract with Middle River Regional Jail (MRRJ) in Staunton.

After opting out of buying into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail near Front Royal nine years ago, Page County signed a bed rental contract with the facility last year ― a cost of $38 per inmate, per day, according to Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage.

After signing a longterm contract with MRRJ earlier this year, continued Cubbage, the county is “locked in” for the next five years at $36 per inmate, per day.

The contract allows up to 136 inmates to be housed in the Staunton facility. On average, Page County rents 50 beds each day, according to Maj. Phil Baker of the sheriff's office. About 30 of those are for female inmates, who are not permitted to stay longterm at the Page County Jail in Luray. The local jail is currently at maximum capacity, housing up to 81 inmates each day.

With the rising costs of incarceration being the chief driver in the sheriff's office budget, said Cubbage, he and other officials are looking for ways to offset spending. In addition to the costs of housing inmates in both Page and at MRRJ, the county is responsible for other expenses, including medical.

Since January, said Cubbage, the sheriff's office has been billed more than $400,000 for the care of four inmates.

“When you throw inmate medical into it, it can balloon your budget in a single day, even though we're working daily to find ways to cut our budget,” said Cubbage. “We recognized early on that we had an overcrowding problem and the financial burden it's putting on the taxpayers … So, we're continually looking at ways we can expand [the Page County Jail] in the most cost-effective way.”

The local jail recently received the approval of the Department of Corrections to expand the jail's lower level, making room for an additional 12 to 15 inmates.

The sheriff's office is also increasing its revenue by expanding its work release program from 1 inmate to 13 since January, said Cubbage.

“Each person in the program pays $125 a week to the county for room and board,” said Baker. “It also allows the offender to pay child support and fines and hopefully has a positive effect on them for their release.”

Additionally, the sheriff's office will save about $900 a month after renegotiating its food contract, added Cubbage, and is on track to cut food costs even further by implementing a community garden next spring.

For the future, continued the Sheriff, officials are looking at other expansion possibilities, including moving administrative offices to a new location to make room for a bigger jail.

“Whether it be in the footprint of the building here or going out to other properties that the county owns and building there, we're looking at ways to expand,” said Baker. “This is an old building, and you have limited things as far as what you can do, but we do our best.”

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