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Request for U.S. Department of Justice to Launch Independent Investigation into the Death of Jamycheal Mitchell

Several prominent local, state and national advocacy groups have called for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an independent investigation into the death of a Portsmouth man from apparent neglect in a Virginia jail.

In a letter sent to the justice department on June 6, 2016, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia, the ACLU of Virginia, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Hampton-Newport News, Mental Health America of Virginia, the Portsmouth Branch of the NAACP, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law have jointly urged for the investigation because of “egregious problems” with the way multiple agencies operated before and after Jamycheal Mitchell’s death. The organizations also warned that lacking the department’s intervention, more inmates with mental illness could die in custody. “We are extremely concerned about the likelihood of future deaths if the problems are not remedied,” the letter states.

Mr. Mitchell died in custody at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in August 2015, four months after being arrested and held for stealing $5 worth of junk food from a local convenience store. An internal investigation cleared the jail of any wrongdoing. However, an April 2016 report from the State Office of Inspector General revealed multiple mistakes by every agency that had contact with Mr. Mitchell following his arrest.

“The report outlines a number of systematic failures that led to the death of Jamycheal Mitchell and says that these systematic weaknesses were known to lawmakers and government agencies long before Mitchell died and had been recommended to be addressed – some urgently – but that various policy, procedural and legislative changes had nonetheless not be enacted,” the advocacy groups letter states.

Read the full letter here: Request for US Department of Justice to Launch Investigation into Death of Jamycheal Mitchell

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