One week after a damning inspection of the D.C. Jail by the U.S. Marshals Service found conditions inside didn’t meet federal standards, there are questions about the future of the facility.
Following the marshals’ surprise inspection which it said was prompted by D.C. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth’s finding that jail officials “abused” the rights of a Jan. 6 defendant by allegedly delaying his medical care, D.C.’s Health Committee Chair heard from the company who provides inmate care.
“We are there 24 hours a day, three shifts so that it’s an ongoing initiative to be there to provide the quality of care that every person is entitled to,” said Vincent Keane, President of Unity Health Care in his testimony to the committee on Thursday, Nov. 4 about how it’s navigating the pandemic inside the facility.
Keane also spoke to the allegations that an inmate was mistreated or denied care by his staff inside the Central Treatment Facility.
“Some people of that community, of Jan. 6, are complaining that they’re not getting appropriate care, but I can assure you without getting into specifics, that Unity’s approach to them is regardless of color, race and creed,” Keane said. “They are they getting quality care and appropriate care. And if they are not, we are going to investigate that.”
Keane said the sanitary issues at the D.C. Jail’s Central Detention Facility discovered by the US Marshals’ inspection are out of their control.
“I think the community, as a whole, benefits from more humane treatment for all of our folks regardless of their living status,” Keane said.
Councilmember Vincent Gray questioned whether a new facility is needed soon, as was discussed when he was mayor of the city.
Conversations are ongoing about where and when a new jail could be built among the Corrections Information Council and other stakeholders with Public Safety and the Judiciary Committee, Keane confirmed.
“It would definitely need to be built in a way that would deal with issues like different airflow and better accommodation to deal now with an epidemic that probably people haven’t thought about … I think we would greatly enhance the lives of our residents in the jail so that they could be treated in a more humane manner,” Keane said.