PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Council has approved an agreement to try and lower the amount of money taxpayers pay to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

Tuesdays vote directed city staff to begin negotiating with the City of Hampton to have their sheriff’s department begin paying Portsmouth in order to use some of their allotted beds.

Beds that for several years haven’t been used at all.

Sheriff Michael Moore, (D-Portsmouth) hasn’t sent inmates to regional jail since the beginning of 2019, following a highly critical report from the U.S. Department of Justice report that found conditions at the jail were “unconstitutional.”

His decision sparked off a multi-year legal battle between the city and his department, with the city condemning the city jail. Moore said he believes that was done in hopes of forcing him to send inmates to HRRJ.

Even though the jails 250 beds reserved for Portsmouth were not in use, the city taxpayers were still paying roughly $6 million for them.

An agreement recently struck with the city and the HRRJ has the city paying roughly $5 million a year for 90 beds in the facility.

However the city will now see some of that money back, at least temporarily, as Hampton will pay a reduced cost per bed to use them.

“We have 175 beds at HRRJ. [We have] some construction going on at one of our facilities, thus the request for additional beds,” said Capt. Alonzo Cherry, with the Hampton Sheriff’s Office.

Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke, who is vice chair of the board of the HRRJ along with officials from Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton and Chesapeake thought the move was a temporary win.

“If someone can use the beds, why not?” Lucas-Burke said.

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