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State police investigate Chesapeake jail project

Thursday - 8/9/2012, 1:35pm  ET

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A $7.2 million Chesapeake jail project marred by cost overruns and over miscues is being investigated by the Virginia State Police.

The Virginian-Pilot ( http://bit.ly/O5POQj) says Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr confirmed the criminal investigation on Wednesday but declined to comment on it.

A city audit released in June detailed several problems with the project.

The city proceeded with the project without following its open-bidding procedure by declaring jail overcrowding an emergency action. That move in 2008 contributed to cost overruns and compliance issues with the state.

The audit also found that three temporary facilities designed to ease jail overcrowding may never house inmates because the city didn't get a state permit. One facility is used to check in weekend prisoners who report for day work. Another is used for storage and the third one is vacant.

Auditors also found that items needed to secure the facilities, including electronic locks and fences, were not included in the original plan. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to add the items later.

Mayor Alan Krasnoff, who requested the criminal investigation, said he hopes it will provide information that city officials need to avoid repeating the missteps in the future.

"My hope is bringing in the respected, unbiased investigators from the State Police will help begin the process of restoring trust in Chesapeake."

Councilman Rick West said he is disappointed because there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing.

Overcrowding concerns prompted the city to begin looking at options in 2006, when the jail housed about 1,400 inmates. The building was designed to hold a maximum 560 inmates.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com


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