Oct 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge asks DOJ to probe D.C. jail's treatment of Capitol riot detainee

Picture of the D.C. Department of Corrections building

D.C. Department of Corrections. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday held officials at the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections in contempt of court after ruling they violated the civil rights of a Jan. 6 detainee by impeding his access to medical care.

The big picture: The department has been the subject of heavy criticism from inmates, lawyers and judges over its living conditions, the Washington Post reports. During the pandemic, for around 400 days, officials imposed a 23-hour-a-day lockdown policy to enforce social distancing. The rule was eased this summer.

  • Some lawyers have also said that a lack of computers, video conference rooms and guards, along with pandemic restrictions, prevents inmates from getting access to legal counsel.
  • U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he would ask the Justice Department to conduct a civil rights investigation.

What they're saying: "I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abused. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6th defendant or not, but I find this matter should be referred to the attorney general of the United States for a civil rights investigation into whether the D.C. Department of Corrections is violating the civil rights of January 6th defendants ... in this and maybe other cases," Lamberth said in a hearing, per the Washington Post.

  • Lamberth did not impose any sanctions on the jail officials but suggested that inmates might have to be transferred out of the D.C. jail to other facilities if they are found to be treated improperly, the Post notes.

Context: The defendant in the case is Christopher Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys, who is facing several charges for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, including assaulting police and for causing civil disorder, per Reuters.

Read the order:

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