Update on Jail Bills

February 17, 2022

Two bills that would have provided additional state support to jails for the care of state-responsible inmates failed to survive hearings in the money committees prior to crossover.  HB 989 (Runion) would have required the Department of Corrections to compensate local jails for housing state-responsible offenders at a tiered rate that would increase with the duration of the state-responsible offender’s time in the local or regional jail ($12 per day for the first 60 days following the transmission of the sentencing order to the Department of Corrections, $40 per day for the next 30 days, and the actual cost of incarceration as calculated in the annual jail cost report after the 90th day).  HB 989 was reported from the House Public Safety Committee but tabled in House Appropriations.  SB 165 (Peake) would have required the Department to compensate local jails for the cost of incarceration as calculated in the jail cost report beginning on the 61st day following transmission of the sentencing order.  SB 165 was similarly reported from the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee but continued to 2023 in Senate Finance and Appropriations.  Members of that committee did express a willingness to consider an increase in per diem rates as part of budget discussions.  VACo spoke in support of these measures and continues to encourage members of the money committees to support additional resources for local and regional jails in the budget proposals that will be advanced on Sunday.

Two related bills dealing with the needs of individuals in local and regional jails who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities were consolidated into one, significantly revised in the House Courts Committee, and then tabled in House Appropriations with a letter from the Chair referring the issues to the Behavioral Health Commission.  As introduced, HB 147 (Wiley) and HB 1341 (Brewer) required the establishment of standards for the identification and care of individuals with developmental disabilities in local correctional facilities, including requirements for screening, the provision of services within the facility, or potential admission to a facility in which developmental services are provided.  The bills also required transfer of certain individuals in need of behavioral health services (as in HB 147) or individuals determined to have severe mental illness (as in HB 1341) to an appropriate facility within 72 hours.  Working with advocacy partners with the Virginia Association of Regional Jails and the Virginia Municipal League, VACo expressed concerns about the ability of local and regional jails to comply with these requirements.  HB 147 was incorporated into HB 1341 in House Courts; as amended, the bill would have directed Community Services Boards to arrange for the admission of an individual determined to have severe mental illness to a mental health facility within 72 hours of notification by the jail.  This bill was tabled in House Appropriations and referred to the Behavioral Health Commission.

As introduced, HB 1053 (Shin) and SB 581 (Morrissey) would have eliminated or capped certain fees charged to inmates within local correctional facilities.  As amended, both bills now direct the establishment of a workgroup by the Board of Local and Regional Jails to make recommendations regarding the reduction or elimination of costs or fees charged to individuals incarcerated in local correctional facilities (a similar workgroup is directed to be convened by the Department of Corrections by SB 441 (Boysko)).

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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