PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Portsmouth Branch of the NAACP is pushing for the continuation of the search for the next Hampton Roads Regional Jail Superintendent.
The branch participated in a Community Stakeholders Panel Wednesday involving the hiring of the position. After meeting the candidates, the Portsmouth NAACP is encouraging the governing board to continue the search for potential candidates.
“We have come to this conclusion after being directly involved with many extreme concerns at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail namely JaMycheal Mitchell, Henry Stewart and many other situations involving current inmates in the jail,” Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd said. “The events in each case surrounded some of the most egregious civil rights violations of our time. The next person to take the helm at the jail must be someone who can influence an immediate change as lives are depending on it.”
The Portsmouth NAACP branch has expressed concerns with the staff currently working in the jail, as well as the medical staff that is under contract with the jail.
Chesapeake Sheriff Jim O’Sullivan is the interim superintendent at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.
“We are fully aware and share a certain degree of urgency to have a new superintendent in place; however, we feel that yielding to the convenience of a filled position does not outweigh the assurance of having the best candidate possible for consideration,” Boyd said.
On August 19, 2015, 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s body was found inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. The lawsuit says he withered away in jail and died from wasting syndrome.
A judge’s order that would have sent Mitchell to a state mental health facility had been sitting in a file drawer for weeks before his death.
A Portsmouth judge ordered Mitchell to Eastern State Hospital for mental health treatment two times. A state investigation revealed the second order on July 31, 2015 made it to the hospital admission coordinator, but she never placed Mitchell on the waiting list. Mitchell was arrested in April 2015 for stealing $5 in food from a Portsmouth convenience store. The investigation into Mitchell’s death was completed in early December.
Henry Stewart died in early August 2016. His family said they received an emergency grievance form returned to them with the rest of his possessions. The form states thatStewart repeatedly begged for medical help.