Section of D.C. Jail's Roof Needs Repairs

Roof won't survive winter, city memos say

A large section of the roof at Washington, D.C.’s, main city jail won’t survive the winter, potentially threatening significant disruptions inside the facility, according to city memos reviewed by the News4 I-Team.

The city’s department of corrections requested $800,000 in emergency funding to make repairs and prevent further damage and problems.

The deteriorating section of the roof covers the administrative offices of the jail, including its surveillance, warden’s office and records offices.

“Without a roof replacement the agency would incur significant damage and disruption to jail operations,” Department of Corrections Director Thomas Faust said in a memo to city officials.

“There would be a lack of command and control, no surveillance of inmates,” the memo said. “In addition, with the IT office and records office non-functioning, ultimately the District may be held liable for over-detainment of inmates and the erroneous releases of inmates.”

D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander, whose Ward 7 includes the jail, said the request is serious.


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“If it’s $800,000 just for a roof repair, we have to look at it very closely,” she said.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen and prisoners’ rights groups said the repair request is an indication the city should be considering whether to soon build a new facility to replace the 40-year-old jail.

“We have to look at different ideas into how we invest in a new facility,” Allen said.

Taylar Nuevelle, a former D.C. inmate and spokeswoman for the Jail and Advocacy Project of University Legal Services, said the need for a new jail is urgent.

“It’s more than disrepair, it’s old and antiquated,” Nuevelle said. “It’s a disregard for our most marginalized citizens.”

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