NORFOLK (CN) – A prisoner advocacy group has filed suit in federal court demanding several coastal Virginia cities evacuate inmates currently held inside jails which sit within Hurricane Florence’s path.
In a 15-page complaint filed Wednesday, Nexus Derechos Humanos Attorneys inc. claims nearly 2,500 inmates housed in jails in and around the Norfolk area are having their Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth constitutional rights violated by not being evacuated in the face of the incoming storm.
“The sheriffs in those jails simply do not want to evacuate the inmates,” said Mario Williams, president of the group. He said the jails are located in zone A, a mandatory evacuation zone and the Governor has issued a state-of-emergency for the region.
So far, Williams said, the Norfolk court has refused their request and instead ordered procedural steps.
“We were hoping for an inmate ruling from the judge but we’ve been ordered to do a briefing schedule.” he said. “We were hoping the court would give us a ruling ASAP considering the hurricane is here.”
“The whole situation will be over by then,” he said.
About 1 million people have evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Florence making landfall.
If the Virginia jails refuse to evacuate their populations they will not be alone. According to media reports, prisons in South Carolina have similarly refused to evacuate their populations despite being in Florence’s path.
But a coastal prison in Virginia was evacuated, with about 1,000 prisoners from southern Chesapeake’s Indian Creek Correctional Center transported to Greensville Correctional Center, about 100 miles inland.
While the Indian Creek facility is in Zone D, an otherwise less-flood prone impact area then the jails mentioned in this complaint, a Virginia Board of Corrections spokesperson told the Virginian Pilot that the facility was prone to flooding and required evacuation.