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Pr. William officials ask for county to start planning for jail expansion

Prince William County jail officials are asking county leaders to begin budgeting for the inevitable expansion of the regional jail and its growing inmate population.

Sheriff Glendell Hill (R) and Jail Superintendent Col. Peter Meletis told the Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday that they hope a new $60 million facility is put in place within the next seven years.

In 2008, county officials unveiled a state-of-the-art $53 million, 200-bed facility that adjoins the older, “modular” part of the jail, constructed in 1990. Extensive repairs are being done to the older part of the jail, and officials say that the temporary “modular” solution — it was supposed to be replaced in five years — is far past its prime.

“We have extended it out the last 20 years … we keep putting Band-Aids on it,” Hill said in an interview.

The county was sued by an inmate in 1988 because of overcrowding conditions, and officials built the “modular” jail in response. Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said in an interview that it’s important the county plan for the jail’s next expansion.

“It’s better to start now than deal with an overcrowding crisis in the future,” Stewart said.

Repair projects to the older part of the jail have totalled $10 million since 1999, according to Hill’s and Meletis’ presentation to the Board of Supervisors. Repair work is continuing on the HVAC system, water problems, floors, the security system and a new roof, which are expected to be completed this year.

The ongoing repairs mean that officials have shifted inmates to other parts of the jail, which are more crowded than usual.

Meletis said, however, that the jail is not overcrowded and that while there is a substantial amount of “double bunking,” or putting two beds in one room, there have not been more disciplinary problems as a result.

Prince William’s jail population has risen steadily over the years with the population. The jail had 175 inmates in 1982 when it first opened and it now houses about 970. The county also uses about 75 beds at Peumansend Creek jail in Caroline County.

Officials hope to eventually house all inmates under the same roof.

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