Marshal Service’s absence more than frustrating

Published 11:42 am Saturday, September 14, 2013

The other day, local representatives drove to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressmen and other federal officials about a possible costly shortfall involving the area’s connection to Western Tidewater Regional Jail. The powwow had reportedly been planned for two weeks.

Guess who didn’t show?

In case you missed the clue in the headline, it wasn’t the congressmen. No, no, no. The U.S. Marshal Service cancelled at the proverbial last minute.

No explanation was apparently given to the men and women who made the time to drive nearly four hours or longer northward. They had to hear it through the congressmen.

Isle of Wight Sheriff Mark Marshall called that cancellation “very disappointing” and “frustrating.” Franklin City Manager Randy Martin even added, “puzzling.”

The words that come to our mind are “unprofessional” and “insulting” on the part of those who evidently snubbed the attendees.

What’s at stake is the U.S. Marshal Service plans to take inmates from WTRJ and transfer them to a site in Virginia Beach on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The move is happening because of a reported unsolicited bid by the sheriff of Virginia Beach to move the inmates to that facility.

This would cost our regional facility $2.3 million this fiscal year. In turn, Franklin, Suffolk and Isle of Wight, which use the local site, would have to find money for the shortfalls in their respective operating budgets. Even a jail in the Northern Neck of Virginia would be affected.

In Franklin, for example, residents could see personal property taxes raised an estimated 7 more cents per $100; the rate is $4.50 per $100.

To the credit of those who participated, the meeting was still considered productive, but as Martin pointed out, more could have been accomplished.

All is not lost, as apparently some more meetings including you-know-who are scheduled. One was planned for Friday, and reportedly a reprieve has been obtained.

Even Sheriff Marshall is hopeful that a mutually agreeable solution could be found, particularly when the congressmen such as U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes, Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman and Scott Rigell become more involved. Their help has been duly noted.

We hope to eventually say the same for the Marshal Service.