University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name CRIPA Investigation of Hampton Roads Regional Jail JC-VA-0016
Docket / Court NA ( No Court )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 12, 2016, the Department of Justice notified the Hampton Roads Regional Jail (the "Jail") of its intent to conduct an investigation of the Jail pursuant to Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ... read more >
On December 12, 2016, the Department of Justice notified the Hampton Roads Regional Jail (the "Jail") of its intent to conduct an investigation of the Jail pursuant to Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132. The Jail, located in Portsmouth, was opened in 1998 and currently serves five local jurisdictions.

The investigation focused on whether there was reasonable cause to believe that the Jail (1) violates prisoners' rights to adequate medical and mental health care, (2) violates the constitutional rights of prisoners who have serious mental illness by secluding them in restrictive housing for prolonged time, and (3) violates the ADA rights of prisoners who have mental health disabilities by denying them access to services, programs, and activities because of their disabilities. The investigation was conducted jointly by the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

On December 19, 2018, the DOJ notified the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority that the investigation was complete. The investigation found reasonable cause to believe the conditions at the Jail violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the investigation revealed reasonable cause to believe that the Jail fails to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care to prisoners, including by placing prisoners with serious mental illness in restrictive housing for prolonged periods of time under conditions that violated the Constitution. Additionally, the investigation revealed reasonable cause to believe that the Jail violates the ADA by denying prisoners with mental health disabilities access to services, programs, and activities because of their disabilities.

The Jail was originally built to address local jail overcrowding in the five jurisdictions it serves, but over time those local jurisdictions tended to transfer to the Jail prisoners with significant mental health or medical needs, prisoners unable to follow directions in a correctional setting, and prisoners accused of committing high-profile crimes. DOJ found that, as a result of all of this, the Jail has an especially concentrated high-needs population. At the time of the investigation, the Jail housed approximately 1,100 prisoners--approximately 600 were pretrial detainees while the other 500 had already been sentenced. The DOJ also found that approximately 750 of the prisoners are on the medical chronic care list at any given time.

With regard to the inadequate medical care, the investigation found: prisoners at the jail have serious medical needs requiring treatment; inadequate staffing and inadequate monitoring contributed to this inadequate medical care; and officials who knew about the risk to prisoner health and safety created by the inadequate medical care and disregarded that risk.

The investigation found parallel problems with regard to the mental health care at the jail.

As for the Jail's use of restrictive housing, the investigation found that prolonged restrictive housing under the conditions at the time violated the constitutional rights of prisoners with serious medical illness. It found that the Jail's use of restrictive housing on these prisoners violated the ADA as well.

While the December 19, 2018, notice informed the Jail that the Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit under CRIPA to correct the alleged conditions, there does not appear to have been any filings in court since. The investigation is not listed as closed on the Department website either though, so there may be further proceedings if the problems at the facility persist.

Chris Pollack - 03/30/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Restraints : physical
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Hampton Roads Regional Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
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