U.S. Marshals to remove 400 detainees from D.C. jail due to poor conditions

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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marshals Service said on Tuesday it would remove about 400 federal inmates from a Washington, D.C., jail after a surprise inspection revealed that one of its facilities did not meet the minimum standards required by federal regulations.

The Marshals Service, which is part of the Justice Department, said in a statement it would transfer the detainees to the federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Marshals Service said it was “committed to ensuring that detainees have adequate access to defense counsel, family support, medical care, and discovery related to their cases.”

The announcement comes weeks after U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth held top officials from the D.C. Department of Corrections in contempt https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-judge-says-dc-jail-violated-civil-rights-jan-6-defendant-2021-10-13, saying they had impeded access to medical care for a Jan. 6 defendant.

In his ruling, Lamberth referred the matter to the Justice Department for a civil rights investigation.

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers on Oct. 21 https://www.reuters.com/world/us/dc-jail-under-civil-rights-review-attorney-general-says-2021-10-21 that both the U.S. Marshals, which oversees pretrial federal detainees, and civil rights attorneys were conducting a review of the D.C. jail’s facilities.

The Marshals Service said its inspection, which took place on the week of Oct. 18, looked at two D.C. facilities – a treatment facility and the Central Detention Facility.

“The allegations in the summary letter from the Acting U.S. Marshal are deeply concerning,” Christopher Geldart, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said in a statement.

“We take seriously the responsibility of caring for justice-involved DC residents and believe they should remain in DC. DOC leadership is evaluating moving inmates within the facility so that issues raised can be addressed efficiently and expeditiously,” Geldart said.

About 120 detainees, including all of those being held pending trial for alleged offenses related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, are being held at the treatment facility.

The inspection there did “not identify conditions that would necessitate the transfer of inmates,” the Marshals Service said, noting that the problems identified were limited to the Central Detention Facility.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Stephen Coates)

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