WASHINGTON — After Wossen Assaye tried to kill himself in an Alexandria jail on Friday, he was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment.
Alexandria sheriff’s deputies guarded Assaye for 24 hours. Under an agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, USMS took custody on Saturday afternoon.
A private security firm, Allied Protection Services, was hired by USMS to take custody of the prisoner. Two APS guards were assigned to Assaye during his hospital treatment.
Allied Protection Services, based in Los Angeles, has hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts across the country, including one with the U.S. Marshals to guard prisoners on hospital visits or in other situations in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Early Tuesday morning, Assaye overpowered the female guard when the male guard went to the bathroom, setting off a manhunt that lasted all morning until Assaye was captured in Southeast D.C.
According to the Allied Protection Services contract with USMS, two guards per prisoner are sufficient. In unusual circumstances, more or less than two guards are sufficient. The contract also states that at least one guard must be the same gender as the prisoner in custody.
U.S. Marshal Bobby Mathieson says Assaye was shackled in some way. USMS policy states that leg irons are generally used as long as they don’t prevent medical treatment. When leg irons do need to be removed, handcuffs must be placed on a prisoner first. The removal of any restraints must be approved by USMS management.
USMS is also responsible for “determining the placement of prisoners under the supervision of a guard, the number of guards required for a detail, that the qualification of guards used meet established standards, and that guards are properly instructed as to their duties and responsibilities.”
Mathieson says the policy will be reviewed as part of the investigation.
“If the contract security personnel violated policy in terms of shackles and restraints … and once that full investigation is done, we’ll certainly make changes to protocol.”
The contract awarded in January of last year has three annual option periods remaining. The current period ends this fall.
The company is referring questions back to the Marshals Service.
The contract covers the entire Eastern District of Virginia, which stretches from Northern Virginia through Richmond and Norfolk.
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