WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marshal’s Service will move approximately 400 detainees out of the D.C. Jail after an inspection found they were being held in unacceptable conditions – but not in the facility where January 6 defendants are being housed.
In a statement Tuesday, the Marshals (USMS) said officers conducted an unannounced inspection of both D.C. Department of Corrections facilities during the week of October 18. DCOC runs both the Central Detention Facility (CDF), where the majority of inmates are held, and the Central Treatment Facility (CTF), where roughly 120 detainees in federal custody are held, including defendants being held in pretrial detention in D.C. on charges stemming from the January 6 Capitol riot.
Two top D.C. Department of Corrections officials were held in contempt by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth last month over the jail’s failure to provide the Marshals with medical notes for Christopher Worrell, a Florida Proud Boy charged in the riot. Lamberth referred the case to the Justice Department for a possible civil rights investigation, which the agency confirmed was underway on Tuesday.
While the Marshals did not mention Lamberth’s referral specifically in their statement, they did say the inspection was prompted by “recent and historical concerns raised regarding conditions at the DC DOC facilities, including those recently raised by various members of the judiciary.” The inspection came a week after the hearing in Worrell’s case.
The Marshals service said officers conducted interviews with more than 300 detainees. According to the Washington Post, which obtained a letter from the Marshal overseeing federal detainees in the District of Columbia, the inspection found standing sewage and shut-off water, as well as evidence corrections officers were withholding food as punishment.
According to the Marshals’ statement, the inspection determined 400 detainees in USMS custody in the main jail facility (CDF) were being held in conditions that “do not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards.” USMS decided as a result to move all detainees in their custody to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
In the CTF, however – where approximately 45 January 6 defendants are currently being held – the USMS said it found no conditions that would necessitate transferring inmates out. Conditions at the CTF have been a regular source of complaints from January 6 defendants and from supporters on the right, who have attempted to label them as “political prisoners.”
The USMS said in a statement it was committed to ensuring the transferred inmates had adequate access to defense counsel, family support and medical care. It also said it would work with DC DOC to initiate a “corrective action plan.”
While the Marshals' inspection did not find physical conditions in the CTF were sufficient to move Capitol riot inmates, a federal judge did recently release one defendant, Thomas Sibick, at least partly out of concern that a "toxic" environment in the block were contributing to further radicalization.
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