Inmate advocates rallied outside the D.C. jail Wednesday protesting what they call in-humane conditions inside the 44-year-old jail, where temperatures reaching as high as 85 degrees inside during the height of our heat wave.
“This is that Nation’s Capital, we absolutely cannot stand for it," said Senghor Baye.
Baye knew 70-year-old Lester Irby, an inmate who was awaiting trial and collapsed recently. The medical examiner ruled he died of natural causes.
“Regardless if they say he died of natural causes,” said Baye. “Heat can cause anything to happen in your body at any time especially when it’s unbearable heat and you can’t stand it.”
Bay and a couple of dozen advocates marched around the D.C. jail Wednesday, holding signs and chanting.
They said they say were speaking up for those on the inside.
“I pray for these brothers every day since I got out I turned my whole life around," said Timothy Cofield Bui.
Cofield Bui was locked up for 18 months back in 2014 for distribution. The charges were eventually dropped he said but he remembers his time behind bars especially on those steamy summer days.
“They brought in fans but the fans didn’t do any good at all the fans were just blowing hot air out,” he recalled.
“It’s been a long standing issue because DC jail there are some people in there awaiting trial so they’re not even charged with a crime and to have those inhumane conditions is absolutely unacceptable,” said Baye.
The DOC admits they have a problem but crews are currently working on the AC and we’re told conditions have improved.
In the meantime, the DOC is ordering more fans, ice, and cold drinks for inmates, allowing them to leave their cells more often and even wear shorts.
Correctional officers are also allowed to wear light colored shirts to keep cool. Inmates with medical conditions are being assessed and in some cases moved.
The two warmest housing units have since been closed.