DC jail under routine security checks, official says, after word of ‘lockdown’ causes concern

The word “lockdown” filled local social media feeds this week as visitors were shut out of the D.C. jail unexpectedly on Monday and all educational classes were canceled.

Word of the move alarmed local activists. No New Jails DC tweeted Friday, “Folks have been entrapped in solitary confinement for a week. This is inhumane.” Black Lives Matter DC tweeted that the D.C. Department of Corrections has “had humans trapped in a cell since Monday … Every human being is entitle (sic) to fresh air.”

D.C. Council member Charles Allen, D-Ward 6, asked Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth about what was happening during a council oversight hearing.

“I’m getting inundated with social media that says that it’s under lockdown,” Allen said.

Booth stated that the jail was closed to visitors due to routine security checks.

“Lockdown is generally indicative of an incident occurring,” Booth said. “We have quarterly inspections that we do of the whole facility, and they’re never announced.”

Allen suggested that the wording be cleared up as the term lockdown created a stir.

“I think we have to figure out how to better communicate around what is taking place so that we can be responsive to the community,” Allen said.

The Department of Corrections has not said when the inspection will end, but Booth said that they don’t generally last longer than a week.

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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