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Virginia jail could lose millions after inmate escape

<i>WTVR</i><br/>Days after two inmates escaped from Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville
Days after two inmates escaped from Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville

By Maggi Marshall

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    RICHMOND, Virginia (WTVR) — Days after two inmates escaped from Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia, the jail stands to lose nearly $3 million a year.

The U.S. Marshals have pulled all federal inmates from the jail as a result of the recent escape.

Jail superintendent Jerry Townsend made that decision public at a jail authority board meeting on Tuesday. He said the federal contract has not necessarily been suspended or canceled, only that the inmates were moved out of the jail.

Federal inmates made up 42% of the jail’s population, generating more than $2.7 million per year in revenue for the facility.

“It will drastically impact our year and 23-24 budget,” Townsend said.

As a result of the decision, jail officials have proposed 20% budget cuts across the board in areas like salaries, bonuses, and capital improvements.

They also talked about making cuts to the jail’s medical supplies and staff.

In 2013, the Department of Justice filed and settled a claim with the jail regarding not providing adequate medical care to inmates.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to get to a point where we are not decreasing the budget or increasing our localities budget at this late point in the cycle, while we still balance providing capitol improvements,” said one board member.

Retired Jail Superintendent Ernest Tony was the only member of the public who showed up to the special board meeting.

He said he was sad and shocked when he learned about the escaped inmates.

“There are many questions that have to be answered but I do have faith in the staff and organization,” Tony said.

He also came as a concerned citizen regarding the impact of the withdrawal of federal funding.

He said he believed it could especially impact Prince Edward County residents because that county typically houses more inmates than the others.

The Authority Board member who created the budget claimed the amount localities owed won’t increase if the proposed 20% cuts across the board were passed.

Superintendent Townsend had no comment when asked if he was s concerned with the withdrawal of funds.

He did share with the board he planned to meet with the U.S. Marshals directly.

“We are going do every effort and I feel confident to reinitiate the contract,” he said.

CBS 6 is still waiting to hear from the US Marshals office for comment on the situation.

This authority board will meet again next Wednesday to further discuss the budget and its impact.

Bruce Callahan Alder Marin-Sotelo, both federal detainees, escaped from the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville on April 30. Both have since been recaptured.

The investigation into their escape remained ongoing.

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