There Aren’t Sufficient Beds in This Virginia Jail for All of the Girls Caught in Heroin and ‘Human Trafficking’ Dragnets

Even because the waning of the battle on weed makes a small dent in mass incarceration, American cops and prosecutors are dashing to revive jail and jail populations with new nonviolent vice offenders. One chilling case examine may be present in Henrico County, Virginia, the place the variety of feminine inmates on the county jail has greater than doubled up to now 12 months, a leap largely attributable to prostitution and opioid arrests. The place is so overcrowded widespread room has been transformed to an space the place 50 or extra girls sleep on cots or slim mattresses on the ground.

“Our feminine inhabitants skyrocketed,” Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade instructed the Ronoake Instances. “We do not have sufficient area for them.”

What’s behind this XX-chromosome crime wave? It isn’t an onslaught of ornery girl crooks; it is an intensifying police crackdown on intercourse staff and on folks with drug dependence points. Harsh obligatory sentencing insurance policies might also play a job.

Patricia O’Bannon, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, says the issue stems from the Henrico Commonwealth’s Legal professional’s overreliance on jail for individuals who want mental-health or drug-abuse therapy. However Michael Feinmel, who prosecutes drug- and prostitution-related circumstances for the county, claims that therapy sources are too scant and jail is the one choice—at the very least it will get folks off the streets.

Feinmel’s justification implies that cops haven’t any alternative however to make all these prostitution and drug arrests—that these individuals are a nuisance to the general public, or haven’t any houses and anyplace else to go, or pose an instantaneous hazard to themselves. However this is not true.

Henrico County vice cops exit of their solution to arrest these girls, or at the very least those booked for prostitution. They troll on-line adverts, attain out to intercourse staff pretending to be prospects, and hire rooms at native motels the place they’ll lure these girls so as to arrest them. Or they journey to lodge rooms that ladies have rented after which arrest them for “protecting a bawdy place.”

They do that beneath the guise of preventing “human trafficking,” but it surely’s simply punishing girls who promote intercourse. The “victims” are arrested and get to sleep on slim mattresses on the cement ground of an overcrowded jail the place such fundamental requirements as rest room paper and menstrual pads are restricted.

From 2014 by means of 2016, Henrico County Jail averaged simply 118 to 124 feminine inmates per day. Up to now, 2017 has seen greater than twice that. The jail’s common feminine inhabitants per day this 12 months to date has been 268—in a facility that solely has 239 beds devoted for girls. Almost 70 of of the inmates have been pregnant.

“I feel judges was once extra lenient on females than males,” the sheriff mused to NBC 12 Richmond, “however I feel with extra obligatory sentences and issues, it is created a rise in [the female] inhabitants.”

He mentioned that extra beds are being ordered (a step that has apparently taken 10 months of overcrowding to set off). For now, apparently, changing the jail’s dayroom right into a communal sleeping space should do.

Final 12 months, former FBI director James Comeny visited Henrico County to speak about opioid habit. “We can not arrest our approach out of this drawback,” Comey mentioned on the time. Evidently, Henrico County cops disagree.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown

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