RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After months of concerns from deputies, City leaders and families of inmates, an investigation is finally underway inside the Richmond City Justice Center.
“There’s families that love the people that are in there,” said Carla Wade, the sister of Steven Carey.
Carey was the fourth inmate to have reportedly died in the jail in less than a year — and the third in just three months. 8News spoke to his family just a few weeks ago.
“How many lives have to get taken for some type of investigation to happen?” Wade questioned at that time.
The concerns of Carey’s family were echoed by City leaders like Reva Trammel. In November 2022, Trammel called for a state investigation into the jail. A month later, she hand-delivered a letter to Bob Mosier, the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security but she says she still has not received a response.
“I can’t even get an update or a phone call or anything,” Trammel told 8News. “No one from his office has reached out to me, including him.”
Concerned parties turned their attention toward the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails — a nine-member body that creates regulations and reviews inmate deaths.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the executive director of the board, Ryan McCord confirmed that an investigation was underway. McCord sent the following statement to 8News:
“The Board’s death investigations of inmates recently housed at Richmond City Jail are ongoing. The Board has assigned an investigator to the Richmond City Jail cases who has been, and remains, in constant communication with jail administration, and the Executive Director of the Board, concerning the status of those investigations. In accordance with § 53.1-5 of the Code of Virginia, the scope of the Board’s oversight of local and regional jails is limited to the inspection/audit of facilities and the review of in-custody jail deaths.”
8News asked when the investigator was assigned but has not received a response.
An audit of Richmond’s jail from 2021 has also been obtained by 8News — indicating that, at that time, the jail was in full compliance. Since then, several deputies and families have publicly expressed concerns with the jail’s practices.
Sheriff Antoinette Irving, herself, admitted there were issues at the jail — including a staffing shortage of 170 deputies and drugs making their way into the jail.
“I’ve been in this business 30 years and it has been an issue and probably will continue to be,” Irving told 8News in January. “It’s difficult, but our staff is working really hard to ensure that we’re doing the things that need to be done. They’re coming in and working overtime.”
Sources within the prison told 8News that, in the past two weeks, two other inmates were also rushed to nearby hospitals for drug overdose treatment. 8News reached out to the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office for comment but has not yet received a response.
8News has made FOIA requests for records of the communication between the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails and the Richmond City Justice Center.
Stay with 8News for updates.