Too many inmates, not enough space

POSTED: 5:40 PM Jun 26 2013   UPDATED: 9:02 PM Jun 26 2013
jail overcrowding
BRISTOL, Va. -

Jail overcrowding isn't something new, but at the Bristol, Virginia jail it seems to be a growing problem. The mayor tells us they want to find the most cost-effective way for the city to handle this problem.

The Bristol, Virginia Jail is currently home to around 150 inmates, but there are only 134 beds. "A cell block can sleep 14 inmates and sometimes we have up to 18 maybe 19 people so we have to let them sleep in the floor," adds Bristol Virginia Sheriff Captain Ron Hutton.

Hutton tells us makeshift beds are in the floor in some cells. There are also around 16 other inmates who have been transported to a different jail. "The place that we contract with they come and get the inmates and transport them back and forth. It's $35 a day to hold an inmate in another facility," says Hutton.

Bristol, Virginia Mayor Jim Steele tells us the overcrowding problem isn't something new, but the increased drug problem isn't helping. "Right now the drug problem we've had, it's really overcrowding all our jails not only here in Bristol but all over Southwest Virginia," adds Hutton.

Now the city has a couple of options build a new jail or use the Regional Jail in Abingdon. "We'd like to keep the jail here because we have a lot of people that work here and that's one incentive I think," he said.

If the city chooses to go with the Regional Jail in Abingdon, they would have to pay to use it. Mayor Steele tells us now they are going to consider the most cost effective way for the city before they make a decision.

Mayor Steele also told us if they choose to go to the Abingdon Regional Jail the city would probably have to buy buses to transport the inmates for their court dates and have guards on the buses. If they choose to build they would have to find another location in the city.

The mayor plans to meet with the sheriff and city council to decide on the best option.