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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Justice Department Alleges Conditions at Hampton Roads Regional Jail Violate the Constitution and Federal Law

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia today concluded an investigation into conditions at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. The Justice Department concluded that there is reason to believe that the conditions at the Jail violate the Constitution, specifically rights of prisoners protected by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. 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 Constitution. The Department also concluded that the Jail’s restrictive housing practices discriminate against prisoners with mental health disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

As required by the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) and the ADA, the Department provided the Jail written notice of the supporting facts for these alleged conditions and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them.   

“The Constitution guarantees all prisoners necessary medical care, including mental health care, treatment, and services,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “Our investigation found reasonable cause to conclude that the Jail fails to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care and that prisoners experience serious harm as a result. The Justice Department hopes to continue to work with the Jail to resolve the Department’s concerns.”

“Our investigation uncovered evidence of significant violations of inmates’ constitutional rights to adequate medical and mental health care, as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia. “We look forward to working with the Jail to ensure the rights of those incarcerated are not violated.”

The Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia initiated the investigation in December 2016 under CRIPA, 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 under Title II of the ADA.

This investigation was conducted 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.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
18-1668
Updated December 19, 2018