STAUNTON - Middle River Regional Jail has a new superintendent as Eric Young was recently appointed by the jail authority to oversee operations.
The former superintendent, Jeffery Newton - who came out of retirement in 2019 to head the jail - retired again last week.
"June 30th was his last day," Young said.
Young brings 30 years of law enforcement experience to the position. In 1992, he began his career at the former Augusta County Jail that was located in downtown Staunton. Following that, he was in the patrol division with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, he said, and he also worked in the county's school resource officer program for a few years before being promoted to a jail administrator position.
When Middle River Regional Jail was built on Technology Drive and opened in 2006, Young began there as a captain. "Been here ever since," he said Tuesday. "And just worked my way up."
Young, 52, was the jail's deputy superintendent before his latest promotion.
His duties will entail annual budget preparation, financial management and strategic planning, along with other responsibilities.
"The courts do incarcerate people, so we want to make sure that the people that are incarcerated are safe, they're secure, they're getting the medical treatment they need, mental health care that they may need, and keep them secure until the courts decide to release them or they're transferred to the department of corrections," Young said.
One issue the jail must tackle, making it no different from many other agencies or businesses in this day and age, is hiring more personnel, according to Young.
"We still struggle to fill positions," he admitted. Last week, there were 28 open positions at the jail that still needed to be filled. Young said recruiting individuals to fill those spots will be one of his priorities.
"Being a jail officer is a different type of profession," he said. "You have to want to be here and be involved."
In 2021, the jail's daily average of inmates was 820. This year's average has fallen to 769 inmates, according to the jail's website. The average still far exceeds the jail's rated capacity of just under 400 inmates. In 2019, the jail averaged 923 inmates.
Middle River Regional Jail has about 160 sworn officers and just over 40 civilian employees. Young will oversee an operating budget estimated at $27 million, the website said.
Brad Zinn is the cops, courts and breaking news reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip? Or something that needs investigating? You can email reporter Brad Zinn (he/him) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: New superintendent takes over at Middle River Regional Jail