U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. approved a $350,000 contract this week for improvements at the Alexandria City Jail, which resulted from of a two-year-old suit brought by two jail inmates who claimed that conditions there violated their constitutional rights.
Marvin D. Miller, attorney for the two inmates, had filed a request for a hearing this week for the city to show why it should not be held in contempt of their agreement last year to improve the jail.
But Miller dropped his contempt request after the city said that a contract had been signed to begin the work on the jail immediately.
City Attorney Cyril D. Calley said in court this week that work was scheduled to begin immediately.
"If counsel is satisfied with the contract for construction contemplated - then I'm satisfied," Bryan said. "But I don't have the ability to make any independent assessment" of the construction plans.
Bryan also awarded Miller $350 in attorney's fees for having to bring the case back to court.
Last August Bryan ordered the jail to make improvements after inmates Robert R. Hamilton, now an inmates at Lewisburg federal prison in Pennsylvania, and James C. Roberts, an inmate in the state penitentiary in Richmond, sued the city because of poor conditions at the jail where they were being held temporarily.
Construction was not begun on the improvements ordered by Bryan because of delays caused by selection of architects, preparations of plans and drawings, bidding by construction companies and allocation of money by the City Council, according to Calley and City Manager Douglas Harman.
Harman said the city "addressed the $350,000 (for construction) as quickly as feasible though we were mindful of Mr. Miller" and his suit against the city.
The renovations include improving the recreational area into a year-round facility; construction of counselor's office, a law library and storage space; a new heating and ventilation system for the kitchen; improved lighting in the cell blocks; improvement of the inmate visiting area, and ventilation in cell blocks.