Search Results for: virginia inspector general

Virginia Attorney General Complains About My Editorial: Okay, Why Isn’t He Investigating Starvation Death?


The Virginia Attorney General’s office has complained about an opinion piece that I wrote last week in The Washington Post that accused the state of failing to adequately investigate the death of Jamycheal Mitchell. He is the 24 year-old inmate with schizophrenia who died last August from a heart attack caused by starvation after he was arrested for allegedly stealing $5 of snacks from a convenience store and spent 101 days in jail.

In a letter to the newspaper, Cynthia E. Hudson, the chief deputy attorney general, wrote:

Contrary to Pete Earley’s May 15 Local Opinions essay, “Awaiting answers on Jamycheal Mitchell’s death,” the Office of the Attorney General has never and would never advise a client agency to obstruct an investigation. 

Ms. Hudson stated:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) shares the “concerns and the frustration of many Virginians over the lack of clear answers surrounding Mitchell’s death.”


Here’s a reminder of the shenanigans that have happened in Virginia revolving around Mitchell’s death.

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Virginia Officials Sat On Reports About Inmate’s Death Until After State Legislators Had Gone Home

empty room


Did the office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) intentionally delay releasing an embarrassing report until the state’s elected legislators had gone home?

The timing of the release of the report and the meeting schedule of Virginia’s General Assembly, which only convenes three months per year, suggests so.

I’ve already published several blogs about Jamycheal Mitchell, the 24 year-old African American inmate with mental illness who suffered a heart attack last August after starving himself while waiting for a bed in a state hospital. His lifeless body was found covered with feces in a cell at the Hampton Roads Regional jail where he’d been imprisoned after stealing $5 worth of snacks from a convenience store. Mitchell had spent 101 days waiting to be transferred and had weighed 144 pounds when he’d died — 34 pounds less than when he had been booked healthy into jail.

Seven months after Mitchell’s death, I began filing freedom of information requests and questioning why the DBHDS, which oversees state hospitals in Virginia, was taking so long to release a report that would explain why Mitchell was allowed to literally starve himself to death. I also questioned why the state Office of Inspector General had not released its investigation since the results of those IG reports historically had been made public about four months after a death.

In response, a spokesperson for the Inspector General’s office explained that it couldn’t finish its probe until the DBHDS released its inquiry. The DBHDS simply said it was moving as quickly as it could. On March 21, the DBHDS finally released its findings and on April 5, the state IG issued its report.

That’s when I noticed a curious, one line statement in the 16-page IG review. It stated that the DBHDS had actually finished its investigation into Mitchell’s death in December 2015 — four months after Mitchell’s death in August.

That’s right. Four months after he was found in his cell that report was done. Why wasn’t it immediately released?

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Reporter Reveals 115 Empty Beds In Virginia State Hospitals While Mentally Ill Prisoner Starved Himself Waiting In Jail

Empty Hospital Bed in a Ward

Empty Hospital Bed in a Ward

(3-27-16) If you are a Christian, Easter is a sacred day of worship, remembrance and family so I will ask for your forgiveness for posting a blog on Easter. But I want to alert you to a news story in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch by Sarah Kleiner, who thankfully is continuing to probe the preventable death of Jamycheal Mitchell in Virginia.

Kleiner discovered there were 115 empty beds available in the state’s 1,500 bed system during the four months that Mitchell spent psychotic in jail waiting to be sent to Eastern State Hospital. He was one of 34 prisoners waiting for a bed at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. Another fifty others were waiting for beds at other facilities, according to earlier reports.

All of those prisoners could have been assigned a bed but weren’t. Instead, they were left to languish in jails for an average of three months.

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VA. NAMI, Former IG, Local NAACP Call For Fed Probe Of Mentally Ill Prisoner’s Death From Starvation In Virginia

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil2

(3-23-16) Mira Signer, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Virginia, has joined with former state mental health Inspector General G. Douglas Bevelacqua, and the Virginia NAACP Portsmouth chapter in calling for a Justice Department investigation into the horrific death of Jamycheal Mitchell, the 24 year-old African American who died in a Portsmouth jail waiting for a state hospital bed.

Yesterday, the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services released a troubling investigative report that showed Mitchell had literally been overlooked and forgotten while being held some four months in jail. An autopsy showed Mitchell had suffered a heart attack caused by starvation. He had lost more than 10 percent of his body weight while being incarcerated — more than 34 pounds.

This happened while he was under the care of a private for-profit firm, NAPHCARE, hired by the jail to provide mental health services to prisoners. The department also revealed that the employee who it had hired specifically to monitor inmates waiting for state hospital beds had not met with Mitchell the entire four months that he was in jail.

Sarah Kleiner, a reporter with the Richmond Times Dispatch, joined me in filing FOIA requests for information about the Mitchell case before the department finally released its report yesterday. In a story published this afternoon, Kleiner noted that a growing number of mental health advocates in Virginia are asking for federal investigators to step in.

Bringing in the feds would be a slap in the face for the Office of State Inspector General, which still has not released the results of its investigation,  and to the disAbility Law Center, which is Virginia’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Program. The disAbility Law Center has shown no public interest in the case and has not joined NAMI and the others in calling for a federal probe. The OSIG is supposed to be an independent investigative body but Bevelacqua resigned from his post there after he said his bosses soft pedaled his investigation of state Sen. Creigh Deeds’ preventable tragedy.

Bravo to Signer, Bevelacqua, the NAACP and Kleiner for keeping a spotlight in Richmond on the Mitchell case. It’s time for national NAMI and Mental Health America to join this call for full disclosure of what happened in that jail. How did a prisoner with a serious mental illness literally starve himself to death without someone intervening?

Advocates call for federal investigation of death of Va. man jailed for stealing junk food

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 2:10 pm

A growing chorus of advocates across Virginia are calling for federal investigators to look into the death of a mentally and physically ill black man in Hampton Roads Regional Jail last August.

A former Virginia inspector general, the NAACP Portsmouth and a prominent mental health advocate said the Department of Justice should conduct an inquiry into 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s death, which has been under investigation by state officials for seven months.

“It is inexcusable that a mentally ill person should starve to death while incarcerated in a Virginia jail,” said G. Douglas Bevelacqua, a Virginia inspector general over behavioral health and developmental services from 2010 to 2014. “There is no explanation that will ease the shocking truth that the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth and the mental health providers from several organizations … failed to care for Jamycheal Mitchell.”

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Two Internal Memos Show Virginia Officials Knew Much Earlier Than Reported About “Streeting” But Did Nothing


Two internal memos, not previously made public, show that state mental health officials in Virginia were warned earlier than has been widely reported about “streeting” – the practice of turning people away from hospitals because of a lack of psychiatric beds.

The two in-house warnings were written by then Inspector General G. Douglas Bevelacqua and sent to James A. Stewart, who was serving as Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) at the time, and his upper management.  The memos are dated April 14, 2011 and May 12, 2011.

The public first learned about “streeting” from media reports when Bevelacqua issued an IG report on February 28, 2012, specifically about the practice.

These earlier two memos establish a timeline that shows DBHDS officials were aware of “streeting” some 31 months before State Senator Creigh Deeds and his son, Austin “Gus” Deeds were “streeted” with tragic results.

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Waiting On The Sidelines To Fix An Obvious Flaw: Welcome To Mental Health In Virginia


A family friend spent two days waiting in Fairfax County recently for mental health officials to find a crisis care bed for her adult child.

Two days waiting in one of the wealthiest counties in America because there were no beds!

The former head of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Service Board said that Fairfax County sends an average of two hundred persons having a mental health crisis to other counties each year because there are not enough crisis beds available in Northern Virginia.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds was refused help when his son was psychotic because there were no beds available to him locally in rural Virginia  and a state worker dropped the ball looking at hospitals further away. A panel of experts testified earlier this month on Capitol Hill that there is a shortage of hospital beds nationally. One of those experts said a state should have 50 beds available for every 100,000 residents. Virginia averages 22 beds.

Yet, Virginia Interim Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine   denied a request recently from a company that wanted to build a 75-bed crisis care treatment facility in Woodbridge, Virginia, just down the road from Fairfax. More than two thousand residents had signed a petition supporting it and Cynthia Dudley, who runs a Woodbridge mental health drop in center, said the hospital beds were “desperately needed.”

Dr. Levine called building a hospital “premature.”

Premature? After everything that has happened in Virginia?

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