Politico

Feds transfer 400 prisoners from main D.C. jail due to conditions


A slew of complaints about the treatment of jailed defendants in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol appears to have triggered a review that led to about 400 federal prisoners being transferred out of the D.C. Central Detention Facility. But those accused of participating in the Capitol riot are not among them.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced on Tuesday that it had conducted an “unannounced inspection” of District of Columbia Department of Corrections facilities two weeks ago and determined that one of the complexes — the main jail — did not meet federal standards.

“The USMS 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 Marshals Service said in a statement. “The U.S. Marshal’s inspection of [the Central Detention Facility] revealed that conditions there do not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards.”

The approximately 400 prisoners — all pretrial detainees — are being moved to the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., the Marshals Service said.

The statement did not elaborate on how the D.C. jail facility fell short, but said federal officials would work with D.C. officials to rectify the problems. A D.C. Department of Corrections spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The decision seems not to provide any immediate relief for dozens of Jan. 6-related defendants who are being held pending trial in D.C., because those individuals are being held at the Correctional Treatment Facility, which is used as a medical center for the D.C. jail system and also sometime for prisoners being isolated from the general population.

Capitol riot suspects have complained about being the target of harassment and intimidation by jail guards and, in at least one case, a beating. Some say they’re viewed as white supremacists by the employees at the jail and have become targets for abuse as a result.

Days before the Marshals Service’s inspection last month, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth held the D.C. Department of Corrections in contempt for failing to arrange adequate medical treatment for one alleged rioter, Christopher Worrell. Lamberth also ordered prosecutors to refer the issue to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for further review.

A prosecutor confirmed in a court filing on Tuesday that the relevant materials had been passed to the Civil Rights Division as the judge ordered.

The riot suspects and their attorneys have also complained for months that the jail’s facilities are inadequate for video meetings with their clients and for the review of voluminous electronic evidence, like tens of thousands of hours of surveillance, body-worn camera and cellphone video related to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

Judges have endorsed some of those objections, grousing publicly on several occasions that jail officials reduced the number of video rooms for detainees, effectively constraining the court’s ability to hold hearings for many detainees.

The vast majority of the more than 700 people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building have been permitted to await trial in home detention or on release. More than 100 defendants have pleaded guilty or indicated plans to do so.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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