DC Jail

Reporters Tour Parts of DC Jail After Inspection Found ‘Systemic Failures'

The inspection found "systemic failures" such as jail employees withholding food and water from inmates as punishment, according to U.S. Marshals

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Members of the press were allowed to tour parts of the D.C. jail Tuesday after a recent surprise inspection found what The U.S. Marshals Service called "systemic failures" in unlivable conditions.

The jail has long been a source of problems for the city, but it was under the national spotlight when defendants charged in the deadly Capitol insurrection began complaining of the jail's conditions.

Those complaints led U.S. Marshals to conduct a surprise inspection in mid October.

The inspection found "systemic failures" such as jail employees withholding food and water from inmates as punishment and turning off water in their cells. Human waste and raw sewage overflowed in toilets and there was rampant drug use, according to the inspection.

D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart disputed the findings Tuesday.

"Do things break? Yes, they do. Is it an aging facility? Yes, it is. ... We have on-site contractors here every day to do fixes when things happen," Geldart told reporters.

Members of the press were not allowed to take any photos inside the two areas of the jail found to have the most problems nor were reporters allowed to talk to inmates in those areas.

After complaints from reporters, the press were allowed to see two cells that were not being used. The cells had running water and working toilets.

The few inmates reporters were allowed to speak with said conditions were good in the areas of the jail where they were being housed.

"Hot in the summer with no air conditioning. Cold in the winter with no heat, you know, where you have to wear four layers of clothes to keep warm," one inmate said.

The Director of the Department of Corrections Quincy Booth denied allegations that corrections officers withheld food and turned off the water to cells as punishment.

"We care deeply about the men and women that's in our care," Booth said.

He said no staff were disciplined as a result of the U.S. Marshal surprise inspection.

The Bowser administration is awaiting a final report from the U.S. Marshals.

So far, about 200 federal inmates have been transferred to another facility because of the findings of the surprise inspection.

News4 made repeated requests to tour the jail facility for more than five weeks before Tuesday's tour.

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