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Commonwealth's Counties

Workgroup on jail fees holds initial meeting

A workgroup to make recommendations regarding the reduction or elimination of certain fees charged to individuals incarcerated in local or regional jails held its first meeting on June 22. The State Board of Local and Regional Jails convened the group at the direction of legislation passed during the 2022 General Assembly session. As introduced, the legislation would have capped or eliminated certain fees or costs, such as charges for telephone services (the legislation required telephone services to be provided at no cost for numbers on an approved call list) or the cost of items sold in jail stores or commissaries (the legislation capped the cost of items sold at 10 percent above the market rate for items or services sold by major retail stores). Due to the complexity of the issues involved and the potential financial impact on jail operations, the legislation was converted to a study directive, with a report due December 1, 2022.

The workgroup did not have the required in-person quorum at its June 22 meeting, so it was not able to formally elect a chair and vice chair or establish smaller working groups, but it is expected that Senator Joe Morrissey will chair the group and Delegate Amanda Batten will serve as the vice chair. Staff to the Board of Local and Regional Jails are preparing a survey to be circulated to jail administrators that will compile information on fees and the uses of these revenues. Members also discussed the composition of the workgroup, which currently includes one sheriff and one jail superintendent, as well as the need for subject matter experts to be represented on each of the working groups that are planned to be established to delve into specific categories of costs and fees. A follow-up meeting has been tentatively discussed for the second or third week in July.

VACo Contact: Katie Boyle

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