The Fairfax County Federation of Civic Associations has recommended that the county build 60 additional cells to relieve overcrowding at the county jail.
In a related move the federation called on the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to allocate funds to train the jail personnel to deal with inmates' alcohol problems.
The county jail came under attack for its treatment of inmates after Donald Ferguson, 28, died of alcohol withdrawal after a four-day stay at the jail. Ferguson, who died in December 1978, was the third black inmate to die after being confined in the jail that year. Ferguson's father filed a lawsuit for $1.5 million this month, claiming that his son's death was caused by "an extraordinary series of callous activities" on the part of public officials. The suit was filed against Fairfax County and 10 Fairfax and state officials.
"The jail is hopelessly overcrowded and has been an example of poor planning since the day it opened," Mike Hershman, head of the federation's criminal justice committee, told the 40 representatives from county civic associations who met at Fairfax Hospital last week.
The federation's recommendations are similar to those made in an outside study of the jail, commissioned by the supervisors and submitted to them in August. While praising the jail staff and its administration, the report made three major criticisms: that the jail was overcrowded, understaffed and in need of computerized record-keeping.
The study recommended that in addition to building the new cells, the county consider eventually adding a new wing. In its resolution, however, the civic association opposed a new wing and recommended only that the county add the new cells by renovating the basement of the present jail.
Some representatives said they opposed the new wing because they feared judges would confine more people if space were added.
"The jail population is like a gas," one representative said. "It expands to fill the available space."
But others insisted that additional space is needed.
"We may not be happy spending the money to find additional space, but I don't want criminals next to me and you don't want them either," said Hershman.
In other action, the federation passed resolutions recommending that:
The Board of Supervisors require county officials to disclose all gifts, favors and services they receive from people doing business with the county, and that such gifts should not exceed $25.
The county Health Systems Agency place a higher priority on primary health care and transportation for the estimated 40,000 to 60,000 poor people who do not receive such services.
The Board of Education establish a task force to review extra-curricular activities in county schools and decide for which activities teachers should be paid and how much.