Officials Dispute Recommendation to Shut Down Virginia Jail

Prison bars

Officials at a Virginia jail are disputing a state committee’s recommendation to shut down the facility and return inmates to their localities for holding, according to a published report.

Officials at Riverside Regional Jail, located south of Richmond, claimed that three deaths at the facility were ones that "are not always preventable for any jail," the Progress-Index reported.

The Riverside Regional Jail Authority, which oversees the jail, issued a statement Friday saying it doesn't feel the recommendation is warranted and calling the recommendation “particularly shocking” since the jail had passed all state and federal audits.

The Jail Review Committee of the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails recommended the closure last week after reports of poor conditions, including the deaths of three inmates in 2019 and 2020. The jail houses about 1,300 inmates from seven localities and only one of them, Chesterfield County, has a local jail.

“This recommendation appears to be misplacing the responsibility for systemic criminal-justice and mental-health failures on Riverside, which like most large jails has become a de facto health and mental health institution,” the authority said.

The board put the jail on probation two years ago for mishandling circumstances surrounding two inmate suicides in 2017 and it is is subject to two unannounced state audits every six months. The probation ends in 2022.

The committee also is targeting the Hampton Roads Regional Jail for closure.

The committee's recommendations will be presented to the board on May 19.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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