Justice Department Reaches Proposed Consent Decree to Resolve Hampton Roads Regional Jail Investigation

Today, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia filed a complaint and a proposed consent decree with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority.

The proposed consent decree would resolve the United States’ claims alleging unlawful conditions at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia. Under the proposed consent decree, the jail will develop and implement policies, procedures, and training regarding adequate medical and mental health care and appropriate housing for prisoners with serious mental illness. These measures include appropriate screening and assessment by qualified professionals, adequate treatment planning and suicide prevention practices, specialized mental health housing units, and a quality assurance program. Compliance with the proposed consent decree would be assessed by an independent monitor who will also provide technical assistance to the jail. The court for the Eastern District of Virginia will determine if the proposed consent decree is fair, adequate, reasonable, and necessary.

“This agreement will ensure that prisoners are no longer at risk of serious harm as a result of the Jail’s practices,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We commend the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority for its willingness to make changes to ensure that prisoners receive necessary medical and mental health care.”

“We are pleased that the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority has agreed to address the deficiencies our investigation uncovered,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Hampton Roads Regional Jail to ensure that those incarcerated at the Jail receive adequate medical and mental health care, and that prisoners’ rights under the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act are protected.”

The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia initiated the investigation in December 2016 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which authorizes the department to take action to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional rights of individuals confined to state or local government-run correctional facilities. The investigation was also initiated pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In December 2018, the department provided the jail written notice of the alleged unlawful conditions and the minimum remedial measures necessary to address them. Specifically, the department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the jail fails to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care to prisoners, and places prisoners with serious mental illness in restrictive housing for prolonged periods of time under conditions that violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The department also concluded that the jail’s restrictive housing practices discriminate against prisoners with mental health disabilities in violation of the ADA. 

This matter is handled by attorneys with the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via phone at (844) 644-0225 or by email at Community.HamptonRoads@usdoj.gov.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

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    Based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data and GAO estimates, most U.S. large commercial jet airplanes are certificated at the minimum required stage 3 noise standards, but nearly all of them are able to meet more stringent noise standards. Sixty-three percent of large commercial airplanes in the United States are certificated as meeting the stage 3 standards; however, 87 percent of them were manufactured with technologies that are able to meet more recent and stringent stage 4 or 5 standards as currently configured, according to FAA's 2017 analysis. By analyzing updated data from airlines and aviation manufacturers, GAO estimated that this proportion is even higher: 96 percent of large commercial airplanes are able to meet stage 4 or 5 standards (see figure). According to FAA officials and aviation stakeholders, the primary reason many large commercial airplanes certificated as stage 3 produce lower than stage 3 noise levels is because engine and airframe technology has outpaced the implementation of noise standards. More recently, some airlines have accelerated retirement of certain airplanes, some of which are certificated as stage 3, due to the decrease in travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For the generally smaller regional commercial jets (i.e., generally with less than 90 seats), 86 percent are able to meet stage 4 or stage 5 standards, according to manufacturers' data. With regard to general aviation (which are used for personal or corporate flights), 73 percent of the jet airplanes in that fleet are able to meet the more stringent stage 4 or 5 standards, according to manufacturers' data. GAO Estimate of The Number of Large Airplanes in the U.S. Commercial Fleet That Are Able to Meet Stage 3 or Stage 4 and 5 Noise Standards, January 2020 According to stakeholders GAO interviewed, a phase-out of jet airplanes that are certificated as meeting stage 3 standards would provide limited noise reduction and limited other benefits, and could be costly and present other challenges. A phase-out could require recertificating the vast majority of stage 3 airplanes to comply with stage 4 or 5 standards. This process could be costly for operators and manufacturers but would provide little reduction in noise. Further, airplanes currently unable to meet more stringent standards would require modifications or face retirement. For older airplanes that could not be recertificated to meet stage 4 or 5 standards, some operators could incur costs for replacement airplanes sooner than originally planned. Although stakeholders indicated that a phase-out would not substantially reduce noise, they identified other limited benefits newer airplanes generate, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption. Although advances in technology have led to quieter aircraft capable of meeting increasingly stringent noise standards, airport noise remains a concern. FAA regulates aircraft noise by ensuring compliance with relevant noise standards. In 1990, federal law required large jet airplanes to comply with stage 3 noise standards by 1999, leading to a phase-out of the noisiest airplanes (stage 1 and 2 airplanes). Later, federal law required smaller airplanes to comply with stage 3 standards by 2016. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to review a potential phase-out of stage 3 airplanes—the loudest aircraft currently operating in the United States. This report describes (1) the proportion of stage 3 airplanes in the U.S. fleet, and what proportion of these stage 3 airplanes are able to meet more stringent noise standards and (2) selected stakeholders' views on the potential benefits, costs, and challenges of phasing out stage 3 airplanes. GAO reviewed FAA's analysis of December 2017 fleet data, analyzed January 2020 fleet data from select airlines and airframe and engine manufacturers, and interviewed FAA officials. GAO also interviewed a non-generalizable sample of 35 stakeholders, including airlines; airframe and engine manufacturers; airports; and industry associations, selected based on fleet and noise data, stakeholder recommendations, or prior GAO knowledge. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or krauseh@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
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    In Crime News
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