The disAbility Law Center of Virginia and the State Board of Local and Regional Jails investigated Riverside Regional Jail after the death of an inmate with disabilities
RICHMOND, VA —
Riverside Regional Jail failed to meet even minimal health and safety standards, which lead to the death of an inmate in March 2020, according to an investigation by the disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV). dLCV concluded that the sudden death of an individual with mental illness and developmental disabilities, MD, was due to serious deficiencies at Riverside Regional Jail (RRJ) in Prince George, Virginia. dLCV’s public report details the broken system that contributed to MD’s untimely death, from a lack of crisis response to deficiencies in care while incarcerated.
Several factors contributed to the breakdown, according to the report: the failure of community supports, RRJ’s lack of necessary medical care and follow-on medical protocols, inconsistent and even falsified jail records, and deficiencies in RRJ’s internal investigation.
The State Board of Local and Regional Jails also investigated MD’s death, making preliminary findings that RRJ failed to comply with the minimum correctional standards and was at fault for his death and the death of two other inmates. The State Board’s findings resulted in an agreement between the Board and RRJ, adding a new healthcare provider, new internal audit procedures, and creating a standard compliance officer commission.
In its investigation, dLCV proposed several recommendations to prevent similar tragedies, such as the expansion of community support systems, the creation of a jail ombudsmen to oversee inmate complaints, and the implementation of the Minimum Standards for Behavioral Health Services in Local Correctional Facilities.
RRJ responded to dLCV’s investigation, noting several remedials steps already undertaken.
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is committed to advocating for people with disabilities in all institutional settings, including correctional settings, by ensuring they are not subject to abuse and neglect; and, assisting them in accessing adequate community services to prevent unnecessary institutionalized.