Richmond Sheriff speaks on inmate deaths, staffing issues and polygraph tests

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 11:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A week after the third death of an inmate inside the Richmond City Jail this year, Sheriff Antionette Irving speaks on issues her staff is facing and concerns from city residents.

According to Sheriff Irving, the investigation into the death from last week is still pending, and Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released a report.

“Is there going to be another one?” 8th District Councilwoman, Reva Trammell, said, “ If so, when? Because nothing has changed since the other two. What has changed? It’s gotten worse, I heard. It’s wild as hell in there.”

Trammell said over the last week, she has received calls from Richmond residents concerned for the safety of loved ones locked up and for deputies working inside who are being assaulted.

“I know for a fact there has been. I talk to one at least two to three times a week. One that was severely beaten by an inmate, she’s lucky she’s still alive,” Trammell said.

Sheriff Irving said that this year, there have only been two major assaults on a deputy, two in 2021 and two in 2020, that have led to criminal charges.

“We have had little incidents that take place, but those incidents have not resulted in any injuries,” Irving said. “The majority of the time, those incidents are not the individual vs. the deputy. It’s the individual that’s trying to get to someone to solve some issue that started on the streets.”

Irving said while half of the inmates in the city’s jail are in for violent crimes, she feels she is doing a good job protecting her deputies.

With close to 170 job vacancies, she said she could use more assistance but feels what city leaders have been saying recently doesn’t help.

“If people continue to hear negatively from our leadership, they’re feeling we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Irving said. “So they’re looking and saying, why would I come work at a place where nobody supports anybody.”

Irving also confirmed reports of the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office polygraph testing deputies.

“We’ve been doing polygraphs. It just didn’t start last week or the week before,” Irving said.

She said all employees sign a confidentiality agreement, and polygraphs are done when there’s an influx of contraband in the jail or an investigation is at risk.

“It’s to make sure that we keep safe, that investigations are being done for the rights reasons, to make sure that contraband does not get in, and to make sure information doesn’t get leaked,” Irving said.

Councilwoman Trammell has written a letter to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Robert Mosier, asking the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails to conduct an investigation of the incidents at the Richmond City Jail.