The Bristol Herald Courier is reporting that the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority is now keeping keeps basic prisoner information under lock and key.
The name of the prisoner, his or her criminal charges, and the bond amount set by a magistrate are crucial bits of information that bail bondsmen say they need to decide whether to post a suspect’s bond. The Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority, based in Abingdon and with sites in Haysi, Tazewell and Duffield, once provided those basics without hesitation.
However, those at the jail now enforce a no-release policy that contradicts public records rules adopted by other Virginia regional jails contacted Monday by the Bristol Herald Courier.
“It’s supposed to be a matter of public record, but nobody’s challenging them,” Don Morrell of Southeastern Bonding of Bristol, Tenn. told the Herald Courier.
State open records watchdogs fear the policy also might run contrary to Virginia Freedom of Information laws.
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