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Inspectors condemn Portsmouth civic center complex, including jail due to 'conditions unfit for humans'

According to Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, the jail and the civic center in Portsmouth have been condemned.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Portsmouth Civic Center Complex, including the city jail, has been condemned.

Portsmouth Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke confirmed the news to 13News Now.

Credit: Robert Boyd
Portsmouth's Civic Complex, including the jail, has been condemned.

According to a "Condemned" sign posted on the door, the structure was condemned for due to Section 106.4 of the Virginia Maintenance Code. The code states that conditions were unsafe or unfit for human occupancy.

The code reads in full:

Notice of unsafe structure or structure unfit for human occupancy. When a structure is determined to be unsafe or unfit for human occupancy by the code official, a written notice of unsafe structure or structure unfit for human occupancy shall be issued by personal service to the owner, the owner's agent or the person in control of such structure. The notice shall specify the corrections necessary to comply with this code, or if the structure is required to be demolished, the notice shall specify the time period within which the demolition must occur. Requirements in Section 105.2 for notices of violation are also applicable to notices issued under this section to the extent that any such requirements are not in conflict with the requirements of this section. 

The buildings are required, by law, to remain vacant until improvements are made and they are approved by an inspector.

Sheriff Michael Moore said 250 inmates and 80 employees aren't going anywhere it's "business as usual." He believes the jail is perfectly safe.

He plans to file an injunction in court Thursday to stop the evacuation.

There is no word yet on where the inmates will be transferred if the injunction fails.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Sheriff Moore said he refuses to play politics with the deputies, their families and those he's entrusted with housing in the City Jail. He said over 130 Deputies and more than 60 contractors would be out of work.

I have been advocating for a relocation of the City Jail off the wat... erfront since taking office. I spoke to both the City Council and the City Manager about the need for the relocation of the City Jail. The report of the City Manager confirms the cities failure to properly maintain the City Jail.

As for Lisa-Burke, she was completely caught off guard by the city manager’s decision to condemn the Portsmouth City Jail today.

“I think the hair on my arms and neck just kind of stood up, what is going on,” said Lisa-Burke.

She said the timing doesn’t make any sense. 

In a matter of hours, the city manager is requiring an emergency evacuation without any discussion with the sheriff or city council beforehand.

“If this jail is unfit for human life right now today, then it had to have been like that before today, and somebody clearly knew that," said Lisa-Burke.

This is a developing story.