here's the agenda for today's albemarle-charlottesville regional jail authority meeting

board chair diantha mckeel says the COVID update is on the consent agenda, but she will allow some open Q&A with the jail superintendent at the end of the meeting so people who have 2pm meetings can leave before that if they choose.
jay james has been re-elected to continue to serve as vice chair, with all voting in favor minus his own abstention.

5 people have signed up to speak during public comment.
emma says she has concerns about inmate quality of life. phone charges make it difficult for inmates to stay connected with family. she cites studies that indicate recidivism is fueled by cutting people off from their community while incarcerated.
emma asks that the jail reconsider charging for things like phone use, email access, and envelopes particularly while in-person visitation is suspended due to COVID. inmates of all economic means need to be able to contact their friends & family.
elizabeth stark has been corresponding with people incarcerated at ACRJ. she says they tell her many corrections officers in the jail continue to improperly use PPE & even jokingly remove their masks & pretend to cough on inmates.
inmates are also charged nominal fees for accessing to healthcare of any kind, which disincentivizes people from seeking checkups when they may have COVID-like symptoms. elizabeth urges the board to waive all fees for access to care.
mild to moderate zoom bombing - someone interrupting elizabeth's comment screaming in a foreign language
melissa gilrain asks if people who are incarcerated have any access to attend these meetings of the board that makes decisions about their conditions.
she, too, has been communicating with people inside ACRJ who have told her about unsanitary conditions inside the facility. one inmate told her they were kept in a cell with standing water.
"inmates have been instructed to yell & jump around" to get guards' attention in the event of an emergency, melissa says. why are there no emergency alert buttons inside the cells?
jen d asks the board what the plan is for vaccinating the people in their care. how many doses will they request? when will inmates be vaccinated? are people inside the jail being given information to allow them to make an informed choice to consent?
taylor p shares concerns that were sent to him by people currently incarcerated in ACRJ -
one says they only get a clean towel every 7 days and they never smell or feel truly clean
other concerns shared: there are cases of people being diagnosed with shingles & MRSA and being placed back into the general population.
they are only allowed access to fingernail clippers every 30-45 days. if they need them more often, they're charged for a "sick call"
here is the full text of taylor's comment Inmate A  Some of the main concerns that me and my fellow in
board chair diantha mckeel says "many" of these issues are questions for which the answer is available on the ACRJ website, but "not all of them." she doesn't specify which answers are available or offer to answer the ones not addressed by the site.
jeff brill, the business manager, says hopefully the budget will be ready to be approved by the board by the march meeting.
jail superintendent martin kumer updates the board on the efforts for the jail to become its own fiscal agent (albemarle county currently serves as the jail's fiscal agent).
consultants have been hired & the jail is set to become its own fiscal agent this summer.
cyndra van clief says any realized savings should be used to hire more medical or mental health staff. superintendent kumer rattles off a list of who they already have -
"we are perhaps one of the most well-staffed jails in virginia, in terms of our population"
"we are better off than most jails," kumer says. "we are very fortunate." although he admits they do need more nurses. (so even the "best" staffed jail in the state is short on nurses?)
everyone votes in favor of approving the move for the jail to become it's own fiscal agent, except cyndra van clief, who votes no.

now on to a presentation from strollo architects, the firm that handled the 2000 renovation, about possible future updates to the jail. text reading: Over the last year there has been Board discus
what are your MISSIONS AND GOALS for THE JAIL?
i imagine you might become an architect because you want to make things that are beautiful and that people enjoy using. how do you become an expert on making JAILS. what a terribly banal kind of evil.
he's referring to rapes as "PREA incidents" (PREA is the prison rape elimination act) and this is a consideration in designing rooms without blind spots. completely calm presentation from an architect about designing rooms where it's more difficult to commit a rape.
"what we've found is that if you're treated like an animal, you're gonna act like an animal," the architect says, advocating for the use of natural light when possible inside the jail, that this helps people "get their self respect back"
"nobody's gonna feel good about being in a jail, i don't think, but at least we can make the environment as user friendly as possible."
diantha mckeel says maybe they should talk to inmates inside the jail about what their concerns about the space are. the architect is cagey here, saying you could do that, sure.
ok i think i found it, the worst thing: a former corrections officer doing corporate buzzword speak about communicating with stakeholders about building better jails trying to sell his services as a jailmaker.
weber, a self-described "corrections guy" who works for the architecture firm, says he likes to go to the cell blocks to talk to the "consumers" of the jails "services."
great sales pitch, though - the architect says bad design can cost MILLIONS over the decades. one blind spot means one whole 24 hour position created to guard it. so really you're SAVING money by paying the firm to make you a better jail.
"we know we have a terribly old jail & we've been putting bandaids on it for a long time," says jail board chair diantha mckeel. "this is our chance to get it right."
both doug walker, the albemarle county executive, and jay james express support for the project. walker emphasizes the need for clear project plans so all the stakeholder localities can be involved in understanding the costs.
ok unforunately i have to cut away from the jail board meeting, which is wrapping up anyway, for a press conference from the city of charlottesville

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