Future of state jail death investigations remains uncertain

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - State lawmakers have voted down a proposal that would have funded two investigators to review deaths in jails.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the gap in oversight was exposed by the August 2015 death of 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell at Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

No single state agency currently investigates deaths in Virginia's local and regional jails, and jails largely police themselves.

The legislation would have also removed the current members of the Board of Corrections and replaced them with nine experts who were willing and able to oversee death investigations.

The changes would have cost Virginia $200,000 in the upcoming fiscal year and $275,000 each year thereafter - expenses that supporters say are worth it.

Opponents, like Del. Christopher Peace, say other priorities need to be funded first.

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