Today, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia filed a complaint and a proposed consent decree with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority.
The proposed consent decree would resolve the United States’ claims alleging unlawful conditions at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. Under the proposed consent decree, the jail will develop and implement policies, procedures, and training regarding adequate medical and mental health care and appropriate housing for prisoners with serious mental illness. These measures include appropriate screening and assessment by qualified professionals, adequate treatment planning and suicide prevention practices, specialized mental health housing units, and a quality assurance program. Compliance with the proposed consent decree would be assessed by an independent monitor who will also provide technical assistance to the jail. The court for the Eastern District of Virginia will determine if the proposed consent decree is fair, adequate, reasonable, and necessary.
“This agreement will ensure that prisoners are no longer at risk of serious harm as a result of the Jail’s practices,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority for its willingness to make changes to ensure that prisoners receive necessary medical and mental health care.”
“We are pleased that the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority has agreed to address the deficiencies our investigation uncovered,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail to ensure that those incarcerated at the Jail receive adequate medical and mental health care, and that prisoners’ rights under the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act are protected.”
The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia initiated the investigation in December 2016 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which authorizes the department to take action to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional rights of individuals confined to state or local government-run correctional facilities. The investigation was also initiated pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In December 2018, the department provided the jail written notice of the alleged unlawful conditions and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them. Specifically, the department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the jail fails to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care to prisoners, and places prisoners with serious mental illness in restrictive housing for prolonged periods of time under conditions that violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The department also concluded that the jail’s restrictive housing practices discriminate against prisoners with mental health disabilities in violation of the ADA.
This matter is handled by attorneys with the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via phone at (844) 644-0225 or by email at Community.HamptonRoads@usdoj.gov.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.