By Steve Neavling
The Justice Department has launched an investigation into Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Virginia following numerous deaths and allegations of prisoners being denied medical and mental health care.
Jail officials said they had nothing to hide and welcomed the investigation, CBS News reports.
The deaths of two inmates in separate incidents prompted the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to request the Justice Department investigation.
Since 2012, 18 inmates have died at the jail, ranging from internal bleeding to suicide.
On August 19, 2015, 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s body was found inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. He had been arrested in April of that year for stealing $5 worth of food from a convenience store. Mitchell’s family sued after a medical examiner concluded he likely experienced cardiac arrhythmia related to wasting syndrome, a disorder characterized by extreme weight loss.
Mitchell has been diagnosed years earlier with paranoid schizophrenia, but jail officials had said no beds were available at the state mental health facility, Crimesider reported.
In another more recent case, after 60-year-old inmate Henry Stewart died in early August 2016, his family said they recovered an emergency grievance form Stewart had written indicating he had repeatedly begged for medical help.