A rampage by inmates at the crowded City Jail in Portsmouth, Va., has prompted state corrections officials to agree to transfer some of the convicts to state prisons, Sheriff Gary W. Waters said.

Fourteen jail prisoners staged an eight-hour standoff Friday to complain about conditions at the crowded, hot facility after a deputy tried to confiscate a pencil from an inmate on a fourth-floor cellblock.

Before being persuaded to vacate the cellblock peacefully, the inmates damaged light fixtures and a telephone and covered the floor with food, urine and soapy water, Waters said.

The jail, built for 197 inmates, held 419 Friday.

"You can take a little incident like a pencil," said chief correctional officer Grant E. Spurrier, "and it just gets blown out of proportion."

Pencils are not allowed in cellblocks because the lead points or the metal casing around the erasers can be used to create weapons.

While the disturbance was underway, Waters called state corrections officials, who agreed to find room in state prisons for some of the inmates. Some of the rampaging inmates have been sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison but remained at the jail because of a lack of prison space.