I am an environmentalist and abolitionist. I canoed in and hiked alongside rivers in the Shenandoah Valley my whole life. The rivers should give me comfort.
Now, I pass Middle River and I feel shame and rage because of the Middle River Regional Jail.
The renovation recently approved by the jail authority is expansion in disguise.
Harrisonburg City Council should reject this plan and other efforts to entrench systems of incarceration. We can do better than spending $14.5 million to lock up hundreds of our neighbors. What could it look like if we spent that money housing and sustaining one another?
Jail is not the solution to trauma, depression, poverty, racial inequity or mental illness. It is the cause. If the jail authority cared about taking care of people, they would let them walk free along the river — not put in a new fridge to make a fancier cage.