Riverside Regional Jail will stay open despite deaths and allegations of deplorable conditions


PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Riverside Regional Jail will stay open despite multiple inmate deaths and numerous allegations of unsanitary conditions, neglect and staffing shortages.

In April, a jail review committee voted to decertify Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County. The recommendation came after an investigation found staff directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least three inmates. However, closing the jail is now off the table. Wednesday the State Board of Local and Regional Jails voted to a consent agreement with Riverside Regional.

The terms of the deal are unknown, as the was agreement discussed behind closed doors.
The media was sequestered and placed on another floor in a holding room with an armed guard.

8New tried to ask about the terms, but Board Chair Vernie Francis only said this:

“My only comment is once the agreement is signed, I think the agreement is going to start working for itself. We’re looking forward to working with them to make things better.”

The terms of the deal are important to many in Chesterfield County were allegations of neglect and unhealthy conditions surfaced. Riverside Regional Jail houses about 1300 inmates from seven different localities which including Chesterfield.

In a special meeting in May, Chesterfield County Jail Medical Director Doctor Montovani Gay described a patient who he claims endured unsanitary conditions.

“His cell toilet didn’t work,” Gay said. “He stated there was about an inch of sewage water on the ground.”

At the meeting, there were also reports from former inmates and those working in the jail about illegal drugs, severe staffing shortages and deaths. It prompted Chesterfield’s Sheriff Karl Leonard to start pulling the county’s inmates from riverside regional.

8News tried to ask the attorney representing Riverside Regional Jail Jeff Gore about how the jail would handle the concerns. Gore said, “The agreement speaks to all that.” We were told more detail will come tomorrow when the Riverside Regional Jail Authority Board votes to adopt the agreement.

Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard said the goal was never to close Riverside but to get a better standard of care for the inmates. However, he tells 8News he’s still limiting the number of inmates he sends to Riverside because they have a staffing shortage. He claims the jail is short over 100 corrections officer vacancies. He tells 8News he hopes the agreement addresses that.

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