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Lawmakers tour D.C. jail to investigate treatment of Jan. 6 defendants

Marjorie Taylor Greene, Democrats offer two different views of jail conditions

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks to reporters Friday after touring the D.C. jail in response to complaints that defendants in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot are being treated poorly there. (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post )

About a dozen House Republicans, led by Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), and two Democrats toured the D.C. jail Friday to inspect the conditions under which 20 men charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot are being held, and the two parties emerged with sharply different versions of what they saw.

The lawmakers met with some of the defendants, 17 of whom have been charged or convicted of assaulting police officers, and “they told us stories,” Greene said afterward.

Greene and Republicans from the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability organized the jail tour because of complaints from Jan. 6 defendants and their families, some of whom hold a nightly vigil outside the giant brick building on D Street SE. Greene said among the allegations she heard were, “Stories of being denied medical treatment, stories of assault, stories of being threatened with rape.”

The two Democrats who joined the tour said the jail conditions were unremarkable. They said jails are not supposed to be luxury hotels, and that the tour was a political stunt. Democrats have long accused Greene and Republicans of misleading the public about the mistreatment of Jan. 6 defendants in jail.

A D.C. jail spokesperson could not immediately be reached Friday night.

“As far as I’m concerned, this absolutely passed with flying colors,” said Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Tex.), “as it related to whether this is a humane existence.” Crockett, a former public defender and civil rights attorney in the Dallas area, said the jails she’d visited in Texas and Arkansas were far worse.

“Y’all know what it is,” Crockett said. “It’s politics. It’s political theater. And it’s sad because there’s a real conversation that we really do need to have in this country around policing and around prison conditions. But this ain’t it.”

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who also visited, said there was a full medical team available 24 hours a day in the jail and that the claims of different treatment for the Jan. 6 defendants was “completely a lie.” He said he was “surprised at how much open space there was, they were able to interact freely with members of Congress.”

Garcia said each of the defendants have two computer tablets, one for entertainment and one for legal work, can text their families and contact their attorneys whenever they want. “They’re being treated very fairly and appropriately,” Garcia said.

“The outrageous claim that the January 6 defendants are political prisoners and have been subjected to inferior treatment is a fraud,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement before the tour. Both Crockett and Raskin noted that the Jan. 6 defendants are being held in the newer Correctional Treatment Facility rather than the older Central Detention Facility.

“The mostly Black and Brown inmates housed in the dilapidated and inferior Central Detention Facility are eager to get moved into the more modern, spacious and comfortable [Correctional] Treatment Facility where the January 6 defendants and convicts now reside,” said Raskin, who did not attend the tour Friday.

Deficiencies inside the D.C. jail became a national story in November 2021, when the U.S. Marshals Service sent a letter to the city’s corrections department detailing mistreatment of detainees and announcing plans to transfer about 400 people facing federal charges to a prison in Lewisburg, Pa. The letter was sent amid growing complaints from Jan. 6 defendants held in the Correctional Treatment Facility, but the Marshals found the punitive denial of food and water and unsanitary living conditions on the older Central Detention Facility, rather than where the Jan. 6 defendants were being held.

At the time, council members, attorneys and activists said they had been trying to alert D.C. officials of breakdowns at the jail for years, if not decades. They expressed frustration that it took a federal agency intervening — after complaints from largely White inmates — to inspire significant action from the city.

“I’m deeply disturbed that we only have attention now that the January 6 insurrectionists carried attention to this issue,” said D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) at a hearing that month.

Since then, the head of the corrections department has told the city council that he implemented specific corrective action plans to address the concerns — with a focus on resolving issues in food service, cleanliness, grievance procedures and staff training. A law scheduled to go into effect in May would boost oversight of the facility.

Greene said that the jail was cleaner than when she visited in 2021 and parts of the inside had been freshly painted, and that the Jan. 6 defendants were now allowed out of their cells. But she was adamant, “There’s a clear difference in how [Jan. 6 defendants] are treated. It’s a two-tiered justice system.” She said the non-Jan. 6 prisoners have access to educational programs and opportunities that Jan. 6 defendants do not.


A previous version of this article said that The Post had contacted a spokeswoman for the D.C. jail but that she did not immediately respond to a request for comment. That person now works for a different D.C. agency. The article has been corrected.

The Jan. 6 insurrection

The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.

The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.

The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.