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Riverside Jail inmate dies in suspected suicide, 5 weeks after facility dodged closure by the state

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Riverside Regional Jail

Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County

A Riverside Regional Jail inmate has died of injuries in a suspected suicide, five weeks after a state jail board voted to allow the 1,300-inmate facility to remain open under a two-year agreement that arose from an investigation of three inmate deaths in 2019 and 2020.

According to state records, the inmate is the fifth to die in Riverside’s custody this year, although two of the deaths occurred after the inmates were transferred to a local hospital for apparent health issues. Two died of self-inflicted injures, and another succumbed to a fentanyl overdose.

The latest inmate to die, Samuel Dupont, 33, who was transferred to Riverside from the Chesterfield County Jail on Oct. 23, was found unresponsive in his cell at 8:51 p.m. Oct. 29 and pronounced dead 17 minutes later after resuscitation efforts failed, Riverside Lt. Charlene Jones said in a release to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Times-Dispatch requested information Thursday about the death, which the jail had not made public.

In a reversal of their previous practice, Riverside officials did not identify the inmate who died. The Times-Dispatch obtained the name after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail where Dupont had been held before being transferred to Riverside.

Riverside officials said in the release that the cause of death of the inmate appears to be suicide, but the jail said it has not yet received the state medical examiner’s report.

“The inmate left behind a detailed suicide note,” Jones said in the release.

The inmate, who was being held on charges of abduction and assault with malicious intent, received a medical and mental health screening upon intake “pursuant to Riverside Regional Jail Authority policy and state standards,” Jones said.

“There was no indication then or at any other time that the inmate posed an imminent threat of harm to himself,” Jones said. “Records confirm that RRJA staff conducted all security and observation rounds within the pod to include each cell twice per hour at random intervals as required by RRJA policy and state standards.”

Riverside Superintendent Larry Leabough did not respond to a text message for comment.

The jail’s other inmate deaths occurred between early January and late March.

Inmate Sean Burke, 51, died Jan. 4 of a self-inflicted injury after being found unresponsive in his cell. Nearly three weeks later, Stephanie Russomanno, died four days after being transferred from Riverside to Southside Regional Medical Center and went into cardiac arrest, according to information Riverside provided in response to a FOIA request. Her cause of death has not been disclosed.

Then on March 5, inmate Frank Holgate died after being transferred from Riverside on Feb. 15 to Southside Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery two days later, Riverside said in its FOIA response. His cause of death has not been disclosed.

Later, on March 26, inmate Anthony Gholson died after he was found unresponsive in his cell. The state medical examiner’s office determined that Gholson died of fentanyl toxicity. Jail officials said they have not determined how he obtained the drugs that caused his death.

Riverside has been under state scrutiny for inmate deaths since June 2019, when the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails placed Riverside on probation after the board’s jail review committee found that failings of Riverside staff may have contributed to the deaths of two inmates who killed themselves in 2017.

Then in April of this year, the jail committee recommended that Riverside be decertified and closed after an investigation found that jail staff may have been responsible directly or indirectly for the deaths of three prisoners in 2019 and 2020 and failed to comply with minimum correctional standards set by the state.

That led to an agreement signed Sept. 23 between Riverside and the state jail board that details specific conditions to which Riverside must comply to avoid decertification and closure. The agreement aims to correct deficiencies in jail operations and medical care.

Many of the agreement’s conditions involve adhering to already established state correctional standards through measures designed to ensure compliance, such as conducting periodic internal audits, compiling reports that include corrective actions, and holding staff meetings to discuss problems as they arise and to find solutions.

Toward that end, Riverside is required to submit a monthly report to the state jail board listing any problems or potential violations of standards, as well as specific corrective actions taken or any discipline imposed on jail staff.

The agreement also calls for the appointment of at least one “standards compliance officer,” with a rank of administrative captain or higher, who would be responsible for leading the jail’s ongoing effort to adhere to state standards.

Although Riverside’s governing body signed the agreement after months of negotiation, the jail authority formally noted its objections to the state’s findings on June 4.

In a statement issued earlier this year, the jail authority said two of the inmate deaths cited by the state were from natural causes stemming from acute health conditions, as certified by the state medical examiner’s office. The third death involved a suicide of an inmate “who had been under close supervision of licensed mental health professionals at the jail,” the authority said.


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