400 detainees transferred from DC jail after U.S. Marshal's inspection

The U.S. Marshals Service announced the transfer of 400 residents in federal custody at the Central Detention Facility at the D.C. Jail to a prison in Pennsylvania on Tuesday after finding inadequate conditions at CDF.

The jail is operated by the D.C. Department of Corrections.

The U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia conducted an unannounced inspection of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC) facilities during the week of Oct. 18 that house several hundred detainees who are facing charges or are awaiting placement to serve their sentence.

The inspection encompassed two DC DOC housing facilities - the Central Treatment Facility (CTF) and the Central Detention Facility (CDF).

READ MORE: Jan. 6 suspects don’t need to be moved from DC jail: Marshals

During the unannounced inspection, the U.S. Marshal reviewed both housing facilities and conducted more than 300 voluntary interviews with detainees.

The U.S. Marshal’s inspection of CDF revealed that conditions there do not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards. 

Based on the results of the unannounced inspection, USMS leadership made the decision to remove from CDF all detainees under the custody of the USMS. Working with the BOP, the USMS will transfer those detainees to USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania.

While the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) is responsible for the care and custody of these detainees, under an agreement between the federal and DC governments, the DC DOC is responsible for determining where within their corrections facilities the inmates will be housed, maintaining and staffing the physical facilities and providing for detainees.

The USMS inspection was prompted by recent and historical concerns raised regarding conditions at the DC DOC facilities, including those recently raised by various members of the judiciary.

The USMS has informed DC DOC of its findings, and the USMS Prisoner Operations Division will work with DC DOC to initiate a corrective action plan.

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The ACLU of the District of Columbia is co-counsel with the Public Defender Service of D.C. in Banks v. Booth, a legal challenge to the conditions and lack of access to medical treatment for residents of the D.C. Jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arthur Spitzer, Senior Counsel for ACLU-DC released the following statement:

"While 400 federal defendants are moved to Pennsylvania, the hundreds of residents remaining in D.C. DOC custody will continue to suffer the appalling treatment the U.S. Marshals found in their inspections unless DOC makes immediate and dramatic improvements.

"The systemic racism within our carceral system could not be more stark: it’s lost on no one that it took the complaints of white January 6 defendants for officials to finally act in response to the inhumane conditions and treatment inside the Jail, which advocates and family members of the mostly Black residents at the Jail have been raising for years.

"Our lawsuit against the D.C. Department of Corrections—on behalf of everyone incarcerated at the Jail—was the result of similarly horrific conditions inside the jail during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the denial of prompt medical care to residents with COVID symptoms, lack of proper screening of visitors coming into the facility, and lack of access to adequate personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

"We urge Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Director for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart, and DOC Director Quincy Booth to move as many residents to the Central Treatment Facility as possible and immediately address the urgent health and safety needs at CDF, which clearly fall below minimum constitutional standards. And we will continue through our Banks case to fight for the right of everyone detained in DOC facilities to humane treatment."


Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart released this statement:

"The charge and mission of the DC Department of Corrections (DOC) is to provide a safe, orderly and humane environment for the men and women under our supervised detention. We regularly work on structural repairs to the aging detention facility; however, the allegations in the summary letter from the Acting U.S. Marshal are deeply concerning. 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. 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."