US Marshals to remove inmates from DC jail due to poor conditions

The U.S. Marshals Service is planning to move hundreds of inmates from the custody of the D.C. Department of Corrections. It comes after a surprise inspection of the D.C. jail conducted by the service.

The Marshals conducted the unannounced inspection during the week of Oct. 18. In a release, the service said inspectors found that conditions at the Central Detention Facility (CDF) did “not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards.”

The Washington Post reported that inspectors found “large amounts of standing human sewage … in the toilets of multiple occupied cells,” and in many cells water, “had been shut off for days.” They also reported that staff members antagonized detainees.

Christopher Geldart, Washington’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, told the Associated Press that the allegations made by federal officials “are deeply concerning,” even as local officials work to repair the aging jail. He said city officials were working with the federal government to obtain the Marshals Service’s full report and have also asked for a copy of a recent inspection by the jail’s independent oversight body as well.

“We take seriously the responsibility of caring for justice-involved DC residents and believe they should remain in DC,” he said. “DOC leadership is evaluating moving inmates within the facility so that issues raised can be addressed efficiently and expeditiously.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland had said during congressional testimony last month that the Marshals were conducting the inspection and the Justice Department was “conducting a review” of the conditions at the jail.

The CDF currently holds some 400 inmates for the U.S. Marshals service. Many detainees who are in the care of the Marshals are held at the D.C. Department of Correction while they face charges in U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and Maryland or are awaiting placement in a federal prison.

The inmates will be moved to the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Marshals Service also inspected the Central Treatment Facility in D.C. but did not identify conditions that would necessitate the transfer of inmates from that facility at this time. The CTF houses approximately 120 detainees in the custody of the USMS, including all the defendants stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The Marshals said the inspection was prompted by concerns raised from the federal judges.

Last month, Director of the D.C. Department of Corrections Quincy Booth and Wanda Patten, the warden of the DC jail, were held in contempt of court for the treatment of a Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendant.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had summoned the jail officials to court last month in the case of Christopher Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys who has been charged in the Jan. 6 attack, who was delayed medical care for a broken wrist. He had been recommended for surgery in June but still hadn’t undergone the procedure as of mid-October, in part due to a delay by jail officials in turning over medical documents. Worrell has been accused of attacking police officers with a pepper spray gel, and prosecutors have alleged he traveled to Washington and coordinated with Proud Boys leading up to the siege.

Other Jan. 6 defendants held at the jail have decried what they say are deplorable conditions there.

WTOP has reached out to the District’s Department of Corrections and the U.S. Marshals Service for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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