‘This is still America’: After ‘horrible’ jail conditions found, judge orders release of Jan. 6 protester


WASHINGTON, D.C. – After U.S. Marshals released the results of a surprise jail inspection last month, a federal judge has ordered an ill and injured January 6 defendant to be released from a D.C. jail.

According to a statement from the U.S. Marshals, during the week of October 18, 2021, the U.S. Marshals for the District of Columbia:

“conducted an unannounced inspection of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC) facilities that house several hundred detainees who are facing charges in the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and Maryland or are awaiting placement in a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility to serve their sentence.”

The Marshals inspected two D.C. Department of Corrections facilities, the Central Treatment Facility (CTF) and the Central Detention Facility (CDF).  The CTF, which houses approximately 120 detainees, passed inspection.

However, the CDF, which houses approximately 400 detainees, did not pass.  The Marshals noted in their statement that:

“The U.S. Marshal’s inspection of CDF revealed that conditions there do not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards.”

According to CNN, the Marshals found “horrible” conditions, “like water being shutoff in many cells for several days, clogged toilets and an inmate who had been pepper sprayed and was unable to wash the spray off for days, leading to an infection.”

In addition, CNN reports that the Marshals:

“also observed DC Department of Corrections staff ‘antagonizing detainees’ and ‘directing detainees to not cooperate with’ the Marshals during their inspection. 

“’One DOC staffer was observed telling a detainee to ‘stop snitching,'” according to the report.”

In addition, the report noted “‘water to cells is routinely shut off for punitive reasons’ with many cells being ‘shut off for days, inhibiting detainees from drinking water, washing hands, or flushing toilets.’”

Furthermore, the Marshals noted problems with the food at the jail, “with meals ‘served cold and congealed.’”

According to their statement, the U.S. Marshals leadership decided to remove all detainees under custody of the USMS from the CDF, and transfer them to USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania.

One detainee, Christopher Worrell, will be released instead, due to the work of a judge who has already taken action against the jail for its treatment of Worrell.

On October 13, 2021, according to CNN, Reagan appointee Judge Royce Lamberth referred the jail in Washington D.C. to the Department of Justice on the grounds of civil rights violations, for failing to obtain necessary medical treatment for Worrell.

Lamberth also held Warden Wanda Patten and Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth in contempt for not turning over medical records for Worrell.

Worrell has pled not guilty to six charges stemming from the events of January 6, when he allegedly marched with the Proud Boys to the Capitol.

Per CNN, he has also had to fight for access to medical care, having suffered a broken hand that needed surgical repair.  He also needs treatment for his cancer, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Lamberth said of Worrell’s delays in treatment:

“It is more than just inept and bureaucratic shuffling of papers.” 

He continued:

“I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abridged. 

“I don’t know if this is because he is a January 6 defendant or not.”

After the U.S. Marshals’ eye-opening inspection came to light, Judge Lamberth took things a step further and “ordered that defendant Christopher Worrell be transferred immediately to a different jail, and released on home detention as soon as possible to start chemotherapy.”

In a statement, according to CNN, Judge Lamberth called the jail conditions “deplorable” and “beyond belief.”

CNN also reports that Lamberth noted:

“’This court has zero confidence that the DC jail’” will provide the treatment correctly and not retaliate against Worrell.”

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

This is not the first time the situation at a jail in D.C. has come under scrutiny.  For more on that, we refer you to the report below, originally published on May 14, 2021.

What Constitution? People held after Jan. 6 Capitol incident, some not charged with a crime, still being held in solitary confinement

WASHINGTON, DC- When even the most partisan Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Dick Durbin (IL) are railing against harsh treatment of people taken into custody for the Jan. 6 Capitol “riot” you have to know something is seriously wrong.

According to the Tennessee Star, only a short drive from that Capitol is a jail where some 1,500 inmates are confined to their jail cells 22 hours per day, an increase of one hour over what it was last month. They were also prohibited from going outside.

And what of those who were at the Capitol…not necessarily inside the Capitol but at the Capitol? Well, they seem to have it much worse, having been placed in so-called “restrictive housing,” which is another word for maximum security.

For nearly a year, those inmates…in the name of COVID-19…have been subject to what has been referred to as a “medical stay-in-place” policy in order to “mitigate” the coronavirus. Finally last month, some members of Congress began to take notice.

While Rep. James Comer (R-KY) expressed concerns about the overall inmate population, it was actually Warren and Durbin who spoke on behalf of those locked up for the “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

At a time when Democrats are pushing for statehood for the District of Columbia, the issue of treatment of inmates at the facility is calling that into question, a point not lost on Comer.

“D.C.’s house is not in order, and the solution is not to grant it even more authority through statehood,” Comer said on April 19.

That comment came in response to a Washington Post report which described the jail’s COVID-19 order as “mass solitary confinement.”

In arguing against D.C. statehood in an April 22 speech, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) also cited the same Post report. In that speech, Higgins alleged that the city had been “essentially torturing inmates” for over a year, and noted:

“That is ultimately a violation of the 8th Amendment…is that what we can expect from a D.C. state?”

The Star reported that Comer has requested a briefing from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser about the jail conditions, however she has not yet granted that meeting. In response, Comer issued a demand to House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney to hold an emergency hearing on “these gross abuses that are happening right at our doorstep.”

As to those being held for being present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, many are being held in pretrial detention on charges ranging from knowingly entering or remaining in restricted grounds (trespassing) without authority to conspiracy, assault and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Meanwhile, in cities across the country, including in Washington, D.C., thugs who destroyed businesses, defaced or otherwise vandalized statues and monuments, assaulted citizens, including police officers and engaged in mayhem for months on end have had charges dropped. Most never spent a night in jail after being arrested.

Speaking specifically to those being held relative to Jan. 6, Comer’s office issued a statement which read:

“Reports that January 6 defendants, who have been charged but not yet convicted of a crime, [are] receiving even harsher treatment is equally appalling.”

 Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Neither Bowser nor Maloney have responded to requests made by Comer’s office, nor have they responded to media outlets seeking comment.

One media outlet, Just The News, reached out to a Department of Corrections official for comment via email, but they refused to answer questions or speak on the record in a phone interview.

Marty Tankleff, an attorney who represents some of the Jan. 6 defendants told Politico that he would speak to any lawmakers who had questions about the disparate treatment given to Jan. 6 defendants.

However Tankleff, who himself was exonerated after spending decades in prison relative to a wrongful murder conviction, said nobody has contacted him three weeks later.

One of those whom Tankleff represents, Ryan Samsel alleges that a prison guard beat him so badly that he has suffered permanent eye damage, while another, Edward Jacob Lang, described as “an observant Jew,” claims guards disparaged him as a “false prophet” as he prayed for other inmates.

Unbelievably, a U.S. District Judge in March denied a petition from the Jan. 6 defendants who sought removal from the restrictive housing, saying the D.C. attorney general had so housed them “for their own safety and the safety of the jail,” Politico reported.

That ruling was made by Judge Royce Lamberth, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

In April, Sen. Warren told Politico:

“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” saying she feared the Jan. 6 defendants were being singled out either to “punish” them or to “break them so that they will cooperate” with federal prosecutors.

Such tactics would seem to be more akin to a Soviet gulag, or a prison in Latin America, not in the United States.

In the case of Durbin, he also expressed surprise about the restrictive housing, noting it should be a “rare exception” with a “clear justification,” he told Politico, noting it should only be used in “very limited circumstances.”

News media reached out to Durbin’s office to get an update on their efforts to get better treatment for those arrestees, however got no response.

They also reached out to members of the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committees, which have jurisdiction, again receiving no response. Likewise D.C. Delegate Eleanor Norton Holmes refused to answer if she planned on seeking better treatment for the inmates.

One can imagine if the script was flipped and Donald Trump was president, with Biden supporters being locked up in solitary confinement, tortured and beaten, and held without charges that the media would be losing their minds.

Ironically (or not), there is no definition of “restrictive housing” with the exception of a DOC policy document, last reviewed in August 2019, which calls for “single occupancy,” with no other restrictions listed.

The policy document says it is reserved for inmates who are “sexual predators,” engage in “assaultive behavior”, or are “likely to be exploited or victimized by others,” or have any “other documented special need.”

 One caveat for those in restrictive housing was explained in a May 3 statement from the Department of Corrections, which says inmates are not allowed to have digital tablets in order to conduct legal research. Instead, they are required to submit paper requests and are given a two-day turnaround.

Aside from Tankleff, Attorney Steve Metcalf also represents those locked up, and noted their clients had been placed in two different forms of 23-hour solitary confinement, including “the box,” where inmates are typically sent for disciplinary infractions.

The other is called “administrative segregation,” which is supposed to be “non-punitive.” The lawyers however say that it is non-punitive in name only, with Tankleff noting that clients received no notice or the opportunity to challenge the designation, a move he called unusual.

In addition, Metcalf said the attorneys have also faced roadblocks in trying to meet with their clients, noting a “contact visit” requires an inmate to quarantine for 14 days afterward in a space that includes new inmates. “It’s not the safest place for staying COVID-free,” he said.

During the “non-contact” visits, lawyers are not permitted to bring phones or computers which Metcalf says makes it practically impossible for the Jan. 6 defendants to see the evidence against them, including “recordings from thousands of people’s cell phones.”

He noted that in essence, inmates are virtually unable to participate in their own defense. He said in other jails, he has been able to bring in a laptop that isn’t connected to the internet so show clients.

“Your ability to participate in your own defense” isn’t available to the Jan. 6 clients, a detail he says is an obvious ground for appeal.

Tankleff also said the design of the facility makes it impossible to maintain confidentiality.

“There isn’t even a solid wall” in the area where clients and attorneys meet, noting at one point, two cubicles down from a meeting “we heard everything” another lawyer was saying.

He also questioned the fact that defendants arrested elsewhere have to be transferred to D.C. when all hearings are virtual by default. “What was the purpose of transferring them?”

That seems to be obvious…degrade and humiliate them.

Metcalf said that this was the first time in his career he has seen such an influx of defendants being received from other jurisdictions. “It was a well-thought out strategic plan” to get them to D.C., he said, noting that by putting them all in the same space they can be “mic’d in a cage.”

If you’re familiar with the program “Prison Break,” this facility in D.C. is reminiscent in some ways of Sona, the jail in Panama which is a true third world prison and where the characters in the Fox program found themselves.

 According to The Star, the D.C. jail is considered an “outlier” among jail systems in the area, noting that inmates in Montgomery County get 2-1/2 hours outside their cells, while those in Prince George’s County get three.

For his part, Comer realized the significance of putting people, many not even yet charged with anything, in such conditions.

“This is something to be expected of authoritarian governments such as Russia—not the local government that serves as the center of the free world,” he wrote to Bowser.

In response to the magnifying glass being aimed at the facility, the DOC suddenly made some policy “adjustments,” which included increasing “out of cell time” from one to two hours, allowing 90 minutes of outdoor recreation starting May 15, and restoring some “limited video visitation” by June 7.

This is Biden’s America, where political opponents are not only punished but they are crushed.


Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.


Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today?  With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.  

Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing!  (See image below.)  Thanks for being a part of the LET family!
Facebook Follow First
Submit a Correction
Related Posts