HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Hot temperatures across RVA are leaving inmates at Henrico County’s west end jail in stifling conditions due to an ineffective air conditioning unit.
Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade said Tuesday the jail is having issues with its system.
"There are plans to replace it,” he said. “We replaced half of it last year, and there are plans to replace the other half of it."
Wade said they've put in a request to General Services to fix the problem and are waiting on results.
“My hands are tied,” Wade said. “We know it’s a problem. The President of the NAACP toured the upstairs with me the other night and he was not happy with the conditions.”
“It’s about 80 degrees in here,” said inmate Dayshill Phillips. “Even the [correction officers] say when they walk in and count they say, ‘oh my God, it’s so hot in here.’”
Wade asked his deputies to log the temperature inside the cells and those temperatures ranged anywhere from low 70s to 85 degrees.
“The areas where we get the most complaints out of are in the female cells which are up in the corner facing the sun,” Wade said. “Today those temperatures were 85, 82 and 81, which are great for the middle of January, but awful for the summer.”
"It's really hot,” said inmate Tanisha Riddick. “It's hot enough that we can't even shut the doors at night."
Wade directed his jail staff to allow inmates to keep their doors open during the day and night in order to keep the area cooler.
Fans have also been placed in the hallways, which are noticeably cooler in temperature, to try and pump that cool air into the cells.
“That vent right there isn’t blowing air,” Phillips said. “It’s blowing hot air.”
While water coolers have also been placed in day rooms to keep the inmates hydrated, they also have concerns about their attire.
"These blues are extremely hot,” Phillips said. “They hold heat and we have to stay in these until 5 o'clock."
“I take my clothes off and walk around in a sports bra and boxers,” Riddick added.
Similar conditions were felt in the men’s cells and temporary holding rooms.
"We've reported it to the proper people in the County and they've assured us they're working on it,” Wade said. “We'll stay behind them until it gets done."
On top of the temperature issue, Wade said they’re dealing with a major overcrowding problem that been going on for years.
“We’ve exceeded the projections that were made back [in 2011], especially in the female area,” he said. “On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have weekenders come in. So we’ll have an additional 100 inmates come in on weekends and those are the things we’ve tried to keep from happening.”
Inmates said the overcrowding is also raising the temperature in their cells due to more body heat.
“We’ve got people sleeping on the floors,” Phillips said. “It’s over capacity and too hot.”
Ideally, Wade would like the County to open another facility for specific inmates.
“If we build a building for work release, weekenders, and now that we have our ORBIT people living in the work class they can move into that building and it’s a third of the cost,” he said.
However, according to Wade, that idea hasn’t gained traction.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.