Local / Virginia

Clerical missteps preceded Portsmouth inmate’s death

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — A mentally ill man who was found dead in a jail last year was not on a waiting list for a bed at a state mental hospital, even though a judge had ordered him to be sent there, authorities said.

State investigators released a report into 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s death on Monday, revealing that his name wasn’t among a list of 34 inmates waiting for a bed at Williamsburg’s Eastern State Hospital, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1pXG3ev).

Mitchell was found dead at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in August, four months after he was arrested and accused of stealing a candy bar, a snack cake and a soda from a Portsmouth convenience store. The items totaled about $5.

The Portsmouth General District Court told investigators it mailed the judge’s order to the hospital on May 27, six days after a judge issued it. Investigators found no evidence that the order was mailed or received.

Another copy of the order was faxed to the mental health facility on July 31, but none of the weekly logs of inmates waiting for a bed prepared on Aug. 4, Aug. 11 or Aug. 18 contained Mitchell’s name, according to the report.

A medical examiner concluded that Mitchell died of a heart condition, accompanied by a loss of at least 10 percent of his body weight.

Since Mitchell’s death, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has hired a full-time employee at Eastern State to focus on the waiting list and assist in their transition to and from jail, department spokeswoman Maria Reppas said.

Reppas said the hospital has established a goal that anyone ordered to a state facility for competency restoration be admitted within one week of receipt of the order.

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