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Case Name U.S. v. Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority PC-VA-0027
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-00410 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
After a two-year investigation initiated in December 2016 under CRIPA and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Notice on December 19, 2018 concluding that the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority (“HRRJ”) failed to provide ... read more >
After a two-year investigation initiated in December 2016 under CRIPA and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Notice on December 19, 2018 concluding that the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority (“HRRJ”) failed to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care to prisoners and placed prisoners with serious mental illness in restrictive housing for prolonged periods of time. The DOJ also concluded that HRRJ’s housing practices discriminate against prisoners with mental health disabilities in violation of the ADA.

In the Notice, the DOJ set forth factual findings about the conditions at HRRJ that violated prisoners’ constitutional rights. Principally, the DOJ found that medical and mental health care at HRRJ was constitutionally inadequate. In all stages of medical and mental health care (including patient intake, chronic care and emergency care, treatment and therapy, continuity of care, and security and care for suicidal prisoners), the quality of care and access to care was found to be severely deficient, subjecting prisoners to a serious risk of harm due to delays and lack of care. The DOJ also found a lack of oversight and accountability and a deliberate indifference by HRRJ officials in identifying and mitigating risks. Furthermore, HRRJ utilized prolonged restrictive housing which disparately affects prisoners with mental illnesses, thereby denying them access to activities and programming that they would otherwise be eligible for, and putting them at risk for serious harm. Officials at HRRJ knew of these substantial shortcomings and the associated risks and failed to take appropriate action.

On August 5, 2020, the DOJ filed this lawsuit against HRRJ in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia based on the findings in the December 2018 report and HRRJ’s subsequent failure to take sufficient remedial steps. The DOJ alleges that HRRJ’s policies and practices violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of prisoners. As a result, the DOJ asked Judge Rebecca Beach Smith to declare that HRRJ’s practices violated the constitutional rights of prisoners and violated the ADA, and to enjoin HRRJ to take immediate action to amend its policies and practices to ensure that lawful conditions of confinement are afforded to prisoners.

By the time that the complaint was filed, the parties had already negotiated a settlement. On the same day as the complaint was filed, the parties filed a joint settlement motion. In the settlement agreement, HRRJ agreed to implement a comprehensive list of reforms including appropriate screening and assessment for medical and mental health needs by qualified professionals, adequate treatment planning for medical and mental health concerns, suicide prevention practices, specialized mental health housing units, oversight of restrictive housing placement, increased medical and mental health staff, increased training for staff, increased collaboration between mental health staff and jail leadership, and a Quality Assurance program to identify and correct deficiencies with the medical and mental health care system to be overseen by a Quality Assurance Committee which will provide monthly reports to the monitor and the DOJ.

The settlement agreement noted that HRRJ would designate an Agreement Coordinator to coordinate compliance with the agreement. HRRJ agreed to create annual Implementation Plans to describe how it will fulfill its obligations under the agreement, including deadlines within the first year by which HRRJ must draft or revise policies and procedures, complete a staffing plan, develop and deliver training to HRRJ staff, develop and implement a Quality Improvement Committee, and develop and implement monthly quality assurance mechanisms to report on data relevant to prevent to prevent or minimize harm to prisoners.

A key provision of the settlement agreement was the mandatory appointment of an independent third-party monitor, to oversee HRRJ’s compliance with the agreement. The monitor was agreed to be retained for a period of three years and provide biannual status reports to the DOJ, HRRJ and the court. The monitor would also undertake compliance reviews, on-site inspections and issue monitor reports every six months to assess compliance and HRRJ’s progress on the various reform efforts. The reports will also be filed with the court. In the event of noncompliance with the agreement, the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia retains jurisdiction to enforce the agreement at the request of the DOJ.

On August 31, 2020, the court approved the settlement agreement and subsequently, on September 10, 2020, the court approved the appointment of James Conrad Welch to be the third-party monitor. The settlement agreement is effective as of August 31, 2020.

By the terms of the agreement, HRRJ will implement all provisions of the agreement within four years and the agreement will terminate in five years, so long as HRRJ has attained substantial compliance with the agreement and maintained that compliance for at least one year. HRRJ will have the burden to prove that it has achieved and maintained substantial compliance with the agreement and has been operating in accordance with the requirements of the ADA and the U.S. Constitution continuously for one year. The agreement will terminate by order of the court.

As such, this case remains ongoing.

Rebecca Fisher - 09/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Hire
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Medical Exam / Inquiry
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Failure to train
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Reasonable Accommodations
Recreation / Exercise
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Youth / Adult separation
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
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 Authority
Plaintiff Description U.S. 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 outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2020 - 2025
Filed 08/05/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  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 ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Va.
09/10/2020
2:20-cv-00410
PC-VA-0027-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Va.
08/05/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-VA-0027-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
08/05/2020
Agreement [ECF# 2-1]
PC-VA-0027-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
08/31/2020
Order Approving and Entering Consent Decree [ECF# 5]
PC-VA-0027-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Va.
09/10/2020
Order Appointing Monitor [ECF# 8]
PC-VA-0027-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Leonard, Lawrence Richard Court not on record show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-9000
Smith, Rebecca Beach (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0003 | PC-VA-0027-0004 | PC-VA-0027-9000
Monitors/Masters Welch, James C. (Delaware) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barr, William P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0001
Cowall, Laura Coon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0002
Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0001 | PC-VA-0027-0002
Preston, Judy C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0002
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0001 | PC-VA-0027-0002
Smiddie, Kyle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0002
Terwilliger, G. Zachary (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0001 | PC-VA-0027-0002
Wuerker, Clare Patricia (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-0001 | PC-VA-0027-0002 | PC-VA-0027-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Rosen, Jeff Wayne (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0027-9000

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