A federal judge is pushing for Biden’s Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into the treatment of January 6 detainees after finding the warden of a D.C. jail and the director of the D.C. Department of Corrections in contempt.
“U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington acted after finding jail officials failed to turn over information needed to approve surgery recommended four months ago for a Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendant’s broken wrist,” The Washington Post reported. “The failure of D.C. officials to turn over medical records is ‘more than just inept and bureaucratic jostling of papers,’ Lamberth said in a hearing, raising the possibility of deliberate mistreatment.”
“I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abused,” Lamberth said. “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 called the treatment of the defendant “inexcusable” and pointedly asked the jail officials, “does no one care?” He later described their treatment of the defendant as “more than inept.”
The New York Times added:
[The defendant] was scheduled for surgery on his wrist in June, Judge Lamberth said at a hearing on Wednesday, but by September, the surgery had not taken place and the judge ordered jail officials to provide him with [The defendant]’s medical records so that he could consider issuing a formal order requiring the procedure. The jail officials delayed getting Judge Lamberth the records, prompting his angry outburst from the bench.
Lawyers for several other of the roughly 40 Jan. 6 defendants who are in the D.C. jail in lieu of bail have raised complaints about mistreatment. Some have argued that their clients have been denied proper food and access to showers. Others have complained about restrictions on religious services. Jail officials have denied the accusations and said that the Capitol riot defendants are not being singled out for punishment or mistreatment.
The judge did not impose any further sanctions on jail officials and did not order the release of any inmates. The defendant in question is facing multiple felony charges stemming from the January 6 riot. Lamberth suggested that federal authorities may need to move the detainees to different jails to ensure their civil rights are not being violated.
The Washington Post added:
The case spotlights spiraling frustration among U.S. judges over conditions at the long-troubled D.C. jail, specifically the impact of pandemic restrictions and crippling staff shortages at the facility housing 1,500 federal and local detainees in the nation’s capital.
Conditions at the 45-year-old detention facility have long been criticized by inmates, lawyers and even judges. But the complaints reached new heights this spring after prisoner advocates criticized the prolonged confinement of detainees to stamp out the coronavirus pandemic. For roughly 400 days, jail officials imposed a 23-hour-a-day lockdown to enforce social distancing before conditions were eased this summer.
The report said that a lot of the problems that the January 6 defendants have raised with the way that they are being treated in the prison are not unique to defendants facing charges stemming from the Capitol riot. Other defendants, being held on unrelated charges, have voiced similar concerns.