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Judge: Portsmouth must repair condemned jail

PORTSMOUTH (AP) A judge has ruled that Portsmouth can’t condemn its jail and must instead make the necessary repairs to keep it safe and operational.

Portsmouth officials condemned the jail and four other buildings in the downtown area without prior notice in July, citing reports that investigators found the complexes weren’t fit for human occupancy, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Sheriff Michael Moore challenged the move in court. On Jan. 9, Circuit Judge Johnny Morrison ruled the city must make the repairs, estimated to cost about $300,000, according to Moore’s lawyer, Jon Babineau.

The city and the sheriff remain at odds over whether to send inmates to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in the meantime, the paper said. Moore has refused to send inmates to the regional facility for the past year, citing a federal investigation that found unsafe conditions there. He asked Morrison to block the city from trying to transfer inmates to that jail. Morrison ruled the parties should continue negotiating for 60 more days, at which point he’ll make a decision if they haven’t come to an agreement.

Portsmouth’s assistant city attorney didn’t respond to the paper’s requests for comment.

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