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Federal funds for jail?

Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 11:30 am

Northern Neck Regional Jail is the only facility in Virginia that operates without any local funding, and despite consecutive years of budget deficits, the jail’s administration plans to keep it that way.

The state government, the federal government and the inmates contribute to operations. But the facility’s members—Richmond County, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Gloucester and the Town of Warsaw— have the rare privilege of incarcerating people free of charge.

This is possible because “the Northern Neck Regional Jail Board places a premium on fiscal management and the mitigation, minimization or elimination of financial exposure,” said NNRJ superintendent Ted Hull.

According to the most recent Jail Cost Report, NNRJ’s operating costs were among the lowest in the state, at $51.97 per inmate day compared to the statewide average of $70.03.

Still, certain expenses are difficult to control or budget. Secondary and tertiary healthcare, pharmacy costs and overtime “have the highest adverse impact on the budget,” and those costs have been the primary drivers of budget shortfalls in past years, according to Hull.

“Constitutional law requires that if an inmate comes to jail requiring $1 million of medical care, he gets it. [And] it does happen,” said Hull.

Plus, “there is significant overtime cost to providing guard hire when inmates are taken out of the facility for medical reasons, and specifically when hospitalized,” explained Michelle Lewis, director of finance and administration at NNRJ.