Overcrowding In Danville Jails Becoming A Problem

Danville, VA - It's a sign of a good justice system, more lawbreakers behind bars. But in Danville, jail overcrowding is causing problems of it's own.

The Danville city jail's capacity is 213 inmates. Tuesday, their count was 293. And that number has grown since the start of the year. But they are way down from their peak last summer of 350 inmates.

One particular room in the Danville city jail should house 20 inmates. Right now all 30 beds are occupied.

"We literally have people lying almost on top of one other when we get that crowded," said Danville Sheriff Mike Mondul.

The jail has remained over their limit since 2009. At 80 inmates over capacity now, Danville deputies have learned to adjust to the increase. But as the number of inmates grows, so do the obstacles.

"It's a positive for the community's sake. It's just a negative for the officer's security's sake," said Major Matthew Wyatt.

One of the biggest concerns remains safety.

"It's a challenge for our staff to prevent problems and deal with them as they happen," said Mondul.

"The fact that they are just all on top of each other, it's more of a hostile situation for them and for the officers," said Wyatt.

But they have other worries too.

"Financially, it's also a burden," said Mondul.

"It makes everybody's job more difficult, paperwork wise, feeding them, getting them to court back and forth," said Wyatt.

The Sheriff's Office suspects a combination of more crimes being committed and more criminals being brought to justice are behind the growing numbers. Whatever the reason, the jails just have to adjust.

"It's a challenge for the inmates. It's a challenge for our staff. And it's a challenge for the justice system. But the bottom line is we have to do what we have to do and we will do it," said Mondul.

Despite all the extra inmates, the number of officers has not increased. The Sheriff says with a trend of about 30 more inmates a year, they may soon have to look into alternatives such as alternative housing arrangements.