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Hampton approves sale of Hampton Roads Regional Jail to Portsmouth

Hampton City Councilman Steven Brown questions Deputy City Manager Brian DeProfio about the sale of Hampton Roads Regional Jail on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
Nick McNamara / WHRO
Hampton City Councilman Steven Brown questions Deputy City Manager Brian DeProfio about the sale of Hampton Roads Regional Jail on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

Hampton is the last of the five cities needed to sign off on the sale before Portsmouth takes possession of the jail on July 1.

Hampton City Council unanimously approved selling the Hampton Roads Regional Jail to Portsmouth Wednesday .

It was the final of the five member cities to sign off on the deal. Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News and Portsmouth approved the sale a week prior.

Hampton will receive about $8 million of the $31.5 million sale.

City officials plan on using that sum to buy into the Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk at a cost of $5.7 million. That facility has already been housing Hampton inmates amid its downtown jail renovations.

“The bottom line is we feel like we’ve worked a very good deal for the citizens of Hampton, for the sheriff to ensure that we take good care of the inmates that end up in her responsibility,” said City Manager Mary Bunting.

Hampton Roads Regional Jail struggled with staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The jail also saw increased numbers of retirements at that time.

Staffing troubles were further compounded in 2020 when the Department of Justice ordered the jail to up the number of jail personnel.

Hampton’s Deputy City Manager Brian DeProfio said the Justice Department investigated the facility after an inmate died “and they had determined that they didn't receive the level of care that they should have.”

The DOJ claimed insufficient staffing and inadequate training meant the Hampton Roads Regional Jail failed “to provide constitutionally adequate intake, discharge planning, sick call, chronic care, and emergency care such that prisoners are subjected to an unacceptable risk of harm due to delays or lack of treatment.”

Hampton Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray said getting out of the agreement with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail wasn’t ideal, but necessary.

“It was just a matter of time, but we were fortunate to be able to follow up and get this immediate partnership with the Western Tidewater Regional Jail to serve our needs at a cost, actually, that really was beneficial to the city,” he said.

Portsmouth is set to take possession of Hampton Roads Regional Jail on July 1. Hampton is due to officially enter the Western Tidewater Regional Jail Authority on the same date and member cities in that group will vote to approve the city’s inclusion before then.

Hampton would be the fourth member alongside Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight County.

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