Public Comments for: HB56 - Virginia Retirement System; enhanced retirement benefits for juvenile detention specialists.
Last Name: Scott Organization: Crater Youth Care Commission Locality: 6102 County Drive Disputanta Virginia 34842

This HB56 is critical for retention and recruitment of Juvenile Detention Direct Care Staff. They are exposed to the same element of danger as jail officers and DJJ Direct Care Employees! Jack M. Scott Executive Director Crater Youth Care Commission

Last Name: White Organization: Rappahannock Juvenile Center Locality: Spotsylvania

Good Afternoon, I'm Carla White the Superintendent of Rappahannock Juvenile Center in Stafford VA. RJC is a 80 bed facility, serving Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Orange, Louisa, Madison and the City of Fredericksburg. We have 75 staff that would and should be offered enhanced benefits. Detention staff have been overlooked and undervalued. The service that we provide is critical to our communities and those agencies that we serve and assist, yet we are ignored. Detention staff face the same obstacles that jail and correctional staff encounter. We continue to detain offenders who are violent and have numerous mental health issues. There have been occurrences in local centers that have left staff members with permanent disabilities, both physical and mental. I urge you to think of the safety and well-being of the men and women of the Commonwealth that have devoted their careers to creating safe environments for incarcerated juveniles and the community. Sincerely, Carla White

Last Name: Maloney Organization: Virginia Juvenile Detention Association Locality: Winchester

I am writing to support HB56 which extends enhanced retirement benefits for juvenile detention specialists. On behalf of the Virginia Juvenile Detention Association, I would like to thank Delegate Wiley for listening to our concerns and understanding our need. In 2016, DJJ published a Transformation Plan. The plan consisted of reducing the use of large and aging correctional centers by partnering with local detention facilities to implement Community Placement Programs. Residents committed to the DJJ now serve their sentences in local juvenile detention centers. Our colleagues at the DJJ receive the enhanced benefits under VaLORS. We work with the same youth in the same hazardous environment as the DJJ employees. We work with the youth when they first come into detention, often they are in crisis, and many times, after they have been committed. We face the same danger as juvenile and adult correctional officers do with less protections and resources to handle crisis situations. Our staff are subjected to the same violence, potential injury and burn-out as the correctional officers. We have had staff permanently injured from the impetuous and violent youth we serve, but without the same benefits. Currently, there is a HB up for consideration to raise the age from 18 to 21 for regional juvenile facilities. If this passes, then this is another example of why we deserve the same enhanced, hazardous duty benefits as the juvenile correctional officers and local adult jail officers. This would also enable us to recruit better staff and retain the staff we have. Thank you for your understanding and time!

Last Name: McNair Organization: NORTHERN VIRGINIA JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER Locality: Alexandria

As the Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and a previous correctional officer in the Commonwealth, I am in full support of this bill for the staff and employees of the Center. The work of my staff bears the same risks, challenges and obstacles faced by corrections professionals, law enforcement and other covered public safety professionals. This is a decision for fair and equitable benefits for equally challenging work. Thank you,

Last Name: Brown Organization: Virginia Juvenile Detention Association Locality: Henrico

I am in writing in support of Delegate Wiley's HB56. Thank you so much for including detention specialists in the enhanced retirement program. The state juvenile correctional officers have been receiving this benefit for years, and our staff serve, not only the juveniles that end up in state custody, but far more juveniles who are arrested and detained but not committed. Because our staff work with juveniles, they do not have the same resources during violent incidents (i.e., pepper spray, an array of mechanical restraints), and thus, are often more in harm's way than their counterparts. We employ passionate, dedicated folks that we want to retain, and this benefit would certainly help us keep a well-trained, well-skilled workforce who can continue to meet the needs of some of Virginia's must vulnerable youth. Thank you so much for your support!

Last Name: Mellos Locality: The Plains, Fauquier

My family and I strongly support HB 630 and SB 747, which would allow speed cameras on Rte 17 between Marshall and Warrenton. This stretch of road is treacherous and deadly. We live at the intersection of Rte 17 and Old Tavern Rd (near Great Meadow). We must merge from our gravel road onto Rte 17 or cross Rte 17 every time we leave the house. The large volume of high speed traffic makes this a potentially deadly maneuver every day. My father was killed when he attempted to cross Rte 17 to have dinner with us. His car was T-boned, and flipped several times. He was airlifted by medivac helicopter to Fairfax Hospital, where he passed away after a week suffering in trauma intensive care. Our family is still devastated. It is difficult to appreciate how treacherous this stretch of road is unless you have daily experienced trying to merge with double-trailer tractor trailers and other vehicles that often travel in excess of 70 mph, and appear from just around the bend when you have little time to get up to speed. When we hear a helicopter in the distance, we tense up, and watch to see if it is a medivac chopper landing on Rte 17 to evacuate yet more accident victims. Several times, it has been. Several more times we have heard crashes from our house a mile away, and my sons ran over to make sure it was not their sister coming home from school. I have counted at least 5 deaths at that single intersection since about 2015. That is more than all the homicides in Fauquier County. Rte 17 is different than most roads. It is treacherous because it has two conflicting characters: it is a local rural road with numerous driveways and small roads intersecting on both sides. Large horse trailers merge on and off, and school buses stop to pick up and drop off children. It’s second character is effectively a major interstate highway, functioning similarly to I-95. (It is a thoroughfare for truckers and others to quickly access the inland port). It could be made less treacherous by consistent and thorough enforcement of reasonable speed limits via speed cameras. Rte 17 simply must be made safer. It is unconscionable to allow this level of death and injury to continue. I am generally opposed to speed cameras, having experienced seemingly unnecessary cameras in DC that, in my opinion, may have impeded rather than improved safe traffic flow. However, in this case, it is essential to reduce speed to improve safety on this deadly stretch of road, and speed cameras are the only consistently effective way to reduce speed and save lives on Rte 17. I respect and admire the difficult work that truckers do and appreciate their essential role in a healthy economy. I believe that these bills benefit truckers as well as the local residents that share Rte 17. Truckers may not be aware of the many driveways and roads that intersect Rte 17. I don’t think that even a very capable, experienced truck driver would necessarily expect a high volume of slower-moving local traffic on a road that effectively functions as an interstate. I think it’s an unusual and unexpected combination of uses, and therefore, speed cameras would help truckers to be safer, which is one of their main priorities. Please enact these bills so that we can reduce deaths and injuries on this treacherous stretch of roadway.

End of Comments