PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — There’s division in Petersburg on what to do with the city jail.
Last month, city council voted to close the facility and move all inmates; however, on Tuesday night, more than 100 people attended city council meeting in favor of keeping the jail open.
“It’s been here for years and years and it will be a tremendous loss to the city,” says David Ray Coleman, the Petersburg Council member for ward 6.
Coleman also told 8News anchor Ava-joye Burnett that he wants to keep the jail open to preserve jobs.
“We have 61 deputies that will lose their jobs if that jail is closed. These deputies have their families, they have obligations, they have bills,” says Coleman.
A recent study found the city would save a million dollars annually if all inmates go to Riverside Regional jail.
“It is a lot more money than we can afford. You look for ways to cut expenses when you are running a business and that’s what we need to do as a city,” says former council member Ken Pritchett.
Pritchett proposed the motion to close the jail before he was voted out of office. That motion passed at the December 9, 2014 city council meeting.
Pritchett says Petersburg deputies will not have a problem finding a new job.
“We have great deputies, they are well trained, they are qualified. The regional jail, if we send our inmates there, then they are going to be at the top of the list to get a job,” says Pritchett.
On the same day when hundreds showed-up for a council meeting, the city attorney made a legal move. A document was sent to a circuit court judge and attorney general Mark Herring, detailing all the reasons why the city has a right to shut down the jail.
The jail will remain open until a final decision is made on the case.
Stay with 8News for updates.