Advocates want answers after a recent surprise inspection found evidence of unsanitary living conditions at the D.C. jail.
The U.S. Marshals Service is moving about 400 inmates to a federal prison nearly 200 miles away after the October inspection.
D.C. Councilman Trayon White is demanding to know more about the conditions in the jail and the plan to move the inmates from one of the older facilities there.
“There is some growing concern about the living conditions here at the jail, and it’s my opinion that the jail is too, too old to house people in it,” White said.
“The conditions are rough, and the only reason why we’re over here, because he cares and we care about our people,” former inmate Tawana Baylor said.
“Sometimes we didn’t even have no AC, no air,” former inmate Dwayne Wright said. “Like, right now, they’re probably in there with three, four blankets.”
The inspection followed longtime complaints from the community about living conditions at the jail in Southeast.
Critics say the inspection didn’t happen until detainees from the Jan. 6 insurrection raised concerns about their treatment. None of those detainees are being moved. They’re housed in a separate facility deemed adequate.
The 400 detainees will be moved to a prison is Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where, the U.S. Marshals Service says, there are attorney and visitor areas, medical care, and teleconferencing
“There’s brutality that goes on with the staff,” said Anthony Petty, who says he served time in Lewisburg. “The staff have a lot of hatred toward guys from Washington, D.C.”
White and former inmates raised concerns about moving detainees so far from their families and legal services.
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White says D.C. needs a new jail and is calling on the D.C. Council to hold hearings on the conditions at the jail and the plan to move the inmates.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she is concerned about conditions inside the jail and it needs to be a safe, sanitary and humane facility.
“We are working with our federal partners to get the complete report in order to work through the specific findings, and we have also asked the Corrections Information Council for their latest inspection reports,” Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart said in a statement. “We take seriously the responsibility of caring for justice-involved D.C. residents and believe they should remain in D.C.”