Constitutional Corner

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constitutional_corner_march_13By Sheriff JIM O’SULLIVAN

It has been just over five months since I was honored by being sworn in as the Sheriff of the City of Chesapeake.  As I stated in a previous article, I am dedicated to the citizens of Chesapeake and the Sheriff’s Office staff to make this office the best it can be.  The past few months have been challenging but very rewarding for me.  One of the Sheriff’s Office primary functions is to provide for the safe and secure operation of the Chesapeake Correctional Center.  I would like to take this time to give you a brief overview of this facility and challenges that the Sheriff’s Office staff faces on a daily basis.

The Chesapeake Correctional Center was originally built in the early 1960’s.  Since that time, the facility has undergone several additions/renovations to meet the needs of the City.  The current rated capacity for our facility is 543, but has an average daily population of nearly 1,200 inmates.  This is well over 200% of our rated capacity and puts a heavy burden on the staff that operates the facility on a daily basis.  We also face the challenges of maintaining areas of the facility that are 50 years old, such as repairing items where parts are not readily available.  As I have said, when people ask me how we do the job when faced with such severe overcrowding, I always reply that it is the dedicated staff of the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office that gets the job done.

In October I assumed the challenging task of working with City officials to seek approval to house inmates in the auxiliary housing units that were completed almost two years ago.  Since my time as Sheriff, I have worked diligently to get these units approved for their intended use for inmate housing.  Much of this work has been with various members of the Virginia General Assembly and at this time I would like to personally thank Delegate John Cosgrove, Delegate Lionel Spruill, Delegate Barry Knight, and Senator Harry Blevins for their support and assistance in this endeavor.  Because of their support and commitment, the Virginia General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve these units for their intended usage.  While this is a major accomplishment, there is one step remaining to receive final approval.  It is my goal to receive this approval later this month when I attend the Virginia Board of Corrections March meeting.

Upon approval, these units will strictly be used to house community based inmates, which will free up space in the facility to ease the overcrowding conditions.  Inmates assigned to community based programs are classified as minimum security and participate in programs such as:  Work Force Crews, Work Release, Weekend incarceration, and Re-Entry for individuals who are within 60 days of their release date.

As the Sheriff of Chesapeake, I feel that the citizens play a major role in the success of the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office.   Your input and insight will be of the utmost importance as we move forward and into the future.  I look forward to continuing to serve as your Sheriff and keeping Chesapeake a wonderful place to live and work.  Please visit us at: www.chesapeakesheriff.com

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