Family of inmate who died in Richmond Jail demands answers: 'No one is safe in that jail'

Posted at 6:12 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 19:38:27-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The family of an inmate who died while in custody at the Richmond City Jail is demanding answers and calling for accountability as they fear for the safety of other inmates.

On Monday, Jeanika Meredith said she was at work when she learned that her brother, Vance Holloway, had been found dead in his cell.

"It was devastating," she said. "I went to pick up his things today, and they just said 'we're sorry about what happened.'"

Still, Meredith said she doesn't know much about what happened to her brother.

'I just want answers," she said.

Sheriff Antionette Irving's Office has released limited information surrounding Holloway's death, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say first responders were called to the jail for a medical emergency.

Holloway's death marked the third time an inmate has died at the Richmond Justice Center this year.

While causes are still being determined for the most recent two, which occurred in November and December, the first death reported in March was the result of a drug overdose, according to the medical examiner's office.

“They're supposed to be safe," said Dedrick White, who said Holloway was her soulmate. "That’s what the captain said, but ain't no way they're safe over there.”

Meredith agreed, saying, "No one is safe in that city jail."

They're concerned that inmates may not be getting the proper oversight and don't understand how inmates have died in a place that's supposed to be heavily monitored.

Sheriff Irving said she's currently down about 160 deputies out of 385 total positions and admitted in an interview with CBS 6 two weeks ago that some deputies are overworked, tired, frustrated, and disgruntled.

“I feel like they don't pay them no mind because they are inmates. Just because they're in there, people make mistakes, so there is no right to treat them any kind of way. They are somebody and they have family outside," Meredith said.

City officials have also been expressing concerns about the safety of inmates and staff, with councilmembers referring to "ongoing problems" at the jail and requesting more information as it pertains to the environment of the jail.

On Wednesday, CBS 6 obtained a letter sent from Richmond Councilwoman Reva Trammell to Governor Youngkin's Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Bob Mosier.

In it, she asked that the Board of Local and Regional Jails (BOLRJ) investigate the Richmond City Justice Center for compliance with regulations set forth by the board. BOLRJ is a body of nine members appointed by the Governor to establish standards and guidelines for jails.

In her letter, Trammell cited a "disturbing rate" of inmate deaths and attacks on deputies that have resulted in serious injuries.

"I am repeatedly receiving calls from sheriff deputies and constituents and others who have family members or loved ones incarcerated in the Richmond City Jail. If you are wondering what deputies who work at the jail and the families who are incarcerated have in common, it is fear for the safety of those who work or are imprisoned within the confines of the Richmond City Jail," Trammell wrote.

CBS 6 has reached out to the BOLRJ regarding Trammell's letter and awaits a response.

Letter from Reva Trammell to

Meanwhile, Holloway's family said they want "something to be done."

Meredith said she has now lost two brothers who have died in the Richmond City Jail after a previous incident in 2015.

“It needs to stop before it happens to someone else," she said.

CBS 6 reached out to the Sheriff's Office and asked if staffing shortages have made it more difficult for deputies to monitor inmates, what the proper protocol is for checking on inmates, and if it's being followed. CBS 6 also asked if Irving planned to change any safety measures after the three inmate deaths.

CBS 6 has not yet received a response.