About 400 inmates at the Central Detention Facility in Washington, D.C., are being transferred to a federal prison in Pennsylvania, after inspectors found evidence of "systemic" mistreatment of detainees and unsanitary living conditions at the facility, officials said Tuesday.
Lamont J. Ruffin, the acting marshal for the U.S. District Court in Washington, sent a letter to the D.C. Department of Corrections on Monday, stating that last month, eight deputy U.S. marshals paid an announced visit to the facility, and found "large amounts of standing human sewage" in the "toilets of multiple occupied cells," including several in which water "had been shut off for days." Ruffin wrote that inmates were told by staffers not to cooperate with the review, with one ordering them to "stop snitching."
Several staffers were also spotted "antagonizing detainees," Ruffin said, and "supervisors appeared unaware or uninterested in any of these issues." Ruffin also said there was clear evidence of drug use and substandard food delivery and storage, while "water and food appeared to be withheld from detainees for punitive reasons."
There are about 1,500 detainees in the facility, including 400 who are waiting to attend court appearances in federal cases or for their post-sentencing assignments to federal prisons. Most of the nonfederal inmates are being held on local charges, and in the custody of the D.C. corrections department, not the Marshals Service, The Washington Post reports. None of the defendants in the facility who face charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot will be moved.
There have long been calls for reforms at the facility, and the surprise inspection was sparked by allegations of mistreatment made by a detainee charged in the Capitol riot.