By Callie Hietala
Construction of the new Henry County Adult Detention Center is on time and on budget, Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said several times during the Henry County Board of Supervisors annual planning session, which this year was held in the soon-to-be-completed jail facility. (See related story.)
The Board of Supervisors, county officials, and members of the media toured the facility by Lt. Col. Steve Eanes of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department.
The $70 million, 400-bed facility was constructed at the former DuPont site, bringing new life to the former brownfield that was unused for several decades.
The former industrial site had issues with hazardous materials and, according to Deputy County Administrator Dale Wagoner, was an eyesore in the community. DuPont, he said, took the necessary steps to make the site environmentally sound and safe.
Wagoner said the site selection was a methodical process, which included public hearings. “We’ve been totally transparent with the board and the public the whole way,” he said.
The budget, Wagoner said, was approved by the Virginia Department of Corrections, which will reimburse the county up to 25 percent of that total construction amount, and “we’re still in line to get 25 percent of every dollar that we spend back.”
He said the county was criticized for spending $1.2 million to demolish a brick structure and concrete pad that still stood on the site. “We took that $1.2 million worth of dilapidated building and concrete, put it through a rock crusher, and created $3 million worth of rock that’s sitting under the foundation of this (building), under the asphalt in the parking lot.”
Wagoner said the jail will be ready to house inmates beginning April 1.
Henry County Sherriff Lane Perry said, “this has been a project that’s a long time in coming, but I want to say thank you. I want to thank you on behalf of our officers because you all came and saw what our current jail looked like … I also want to say I’m thankful on behalf of the inmates. One of the things is managing personality types, managing issues they might be fighting. Now we can control that a lot better, we can be more effective, we can have more people in here helping inmates out. There’s numerous people who are going to come in here and talk to them about their life, there are people who are going to come in here and help them with their reading skills, GED, and other things.”
Hall said, “There are things in this facility that we cannot do in the old facility—mental health work, work release, things of that nature. The medical facility is second to none.”
“I’ve always believed that incarceration should be a holistic approach,” he continued. “You want to take the person that has made the mistake and needs to pay for that mistake, but you also want to do all you can to make sure they don’t come back, and if we can help them with job release, with mental health services, with medical services, get them out of here and get them to be a productive member of society,” that is one of the major goals of the facility.