Portsmouth files court petition against sheriff asking all city inmates be sent to different jail


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The ongoing controversy over living and maintenance conditions at the Portsmouth City Jail has resulted in another court filing — this time, a petition to move the facility’s inmates to an entirely different jail.

The City of Portsmouth filed a petition in court Tuesday asking a judge to order Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore to move its inmates to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, which is also in Portsmouth.

The petition is filed specifically against Moore.

In the petition, the City of Portsmouth says it participates as a political subdivision of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority, along with Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Chesapeake.

Portsmouth pays $16,250 a day — or close to $6 million a year — to be a part of the authority and reserve 250 beds at the regional jail. The city pays that even if it does not fill all 250 beds.

According to the petition, the city has not filled those 250 beds and maintained that number before the sheriff has “refused” to send the inmates there.

Instead, the Portsmouth population at the regional jail is about 40.

The petition asks the court to order the sheriff to send all new prisoners and the existing ones to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

The debate over conditions at the Portsmouth City Jail have been ongoing and involved several hearings in court.

The city’s building and code official made a call to condemn the facility in July. The decision was based on an assessment by three consultants that found problems with jail’s fire suppression system, unsanitary conditions, a lack of roof maintenance and more.

Then, Moore, the sheriff, filed a civil lawsuit against the city fighting the condemnation. He has filed a petition for injunction asking the court to prevent the city and council members from sending any inmates to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, according to Tuesday’s petition.

The jail has remained operational as proceedings continue.

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