Council will vote on new jail Thursday

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – There was disappointment at City Hall Monday night as the public weighed in on the proposal for a new jail.  Mayor Dwight Jones had asked for a City Council vote on the $116M plan at its meeting Monday but council members decided to delay that action.

For some the decision to postpone a vote until after a second public hearing this Thursday is a way to be accountable to the taxpayers ultimately footing the bill for the new city jail at the current location.

"They need to know that this process was as transparent as it could be," said Councilman Chris Hilbert.

For others, that transparency is a need for answers and calming concerns on issues like minority participation and the height of the building in the Tompkins-Ballard plan.

"By not being able to get this information in my hands and study it, I believe there is a flaw in the system," explained Councilman Bruce Tyler.

We asked Mayor Jones for his thoughts on how he'll continue to try to convince the council to, as he puts it, "do the right thing."

"I think that we have answered just about everything that we can answer, but I'm thinking that they'll have some more questions," he said.  "We'll answer those too."

While there were moments of heated rhetoric surrounding the choice of this particular plan, one thing seems to unite city officials and citizens.  No one is negating the idea Richmond needs a new jail.

"The conditions under which they are living now are just totally inhumane as far as I'm concerned and I wouldn't want my cat or my dog to live in such conditions," Pauline Hymes explained during the public comment session.

Again, the special public hearing and vote are scheduled for Thursday.  This is the last full council meeting before a summer break.

We're told the $116M price tag on the plan is only guaranteed through September 15th and could be compromised if a vote is delayed again.

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