VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – There is a debate about how inmates should be released from the Virginia Beach City Jail.
Virginia Beach Sheriff, Ken Stolle stands behind his release policy, but bail bondsmen say that policy creates problems for both them and the inmates. Once an inmate at the Virginia Beach jail has served his or her time, they are free to go, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes they were arrested in – even if that times comes in the middle of the night.
“Last week, I got a call at 1:15 a.m.,” said bail bondsman Jenifer Jewell, who said her phone rings in the middle of the night regularly. “People who get released on like the 15th, they start releasing them at midnight on the 15th. So, they release them all night long.”
Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle says his office is obligated to release inmates as soon as possible on the date of their release. He says the debate is nothing more than bondsmen not wanting to work nights and wanting to have prisoners released during regular business hours.
“I haven’t heard any complaints from the prisoners at all about this. What this has to deal with is the bondsmen don’t want to come out at midnight,” said Stolle. “To [release inmates during daylight hours], I have to charge the citizens of Virginia Beach another meal, and additional deputies are required to accomplish that. So, I don’t let the bondsmen run my facility.”
Jewell said she worries about the inmates, especially during the cold months.
“They’re just dumped out with whatever they were wearing when they got arrested,” she said. “So, if they were arrested in the summertime, they’ve got their summer clothes on.”
“The conditions that people sometime get released under, to me, they border on inhumane,” said another bondsman, who wished to remain anonymous.
He said he witnessed just such a release Saturday morning when the temperature was below 40 degrees: “It was a light rain and a cold breeze and they released a young fella from jail wearing nothing but a hospital gown and his underwear.”
The Sheriff said additional clothing is available to inmates, but only if they ask for it. WAVY.com asked him what the harm would be to ask inmates being released if they wanted warm clothes to wear.
“I think that probably happens, but I don’t require that the deputies ask, ‘do you want warm clothes to wear?’”
The Virginia Beach jail is not the only local facility to start releasing inmates at midnight. Norfolk does the same thing, and a spokesperson for the Norfolk jail told 10 On Your Side that if you wait for morning, technically, you are holding them past their release date.