News & Politics

DC Jail Unit Is Just Fine for January Sixers, Federal Report Says

Their unit's conditions are "appropriate and consistent with the federal prisoner detention standards," a monitor finds.

Pro-Trump rioters climb a wall on the Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021. Photograph by Evy Mages

Conditions at the DC Jail’s Correctional Treatment Facility—where about 40 people held on charges related to the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol reside—are “appropriate and consistent with the federal prisoner detention standards,” a federal detention monitor for the US Marshals Service wrote in a report Monday.

The document, first reported by CBS News correspondent Scott MacFarlane, comes as a result of the Marshals Service being ordered last month to address “deficiencies” in the Correctional Treatment Facility, a facility that adjoins the main DC Jail, which is known as the Correctional Detention Facility. The January Sixers are kept separately from others in the jail and have developed a unique culture on their cell block that includes Bible study, avid Bachelor franchise fandom, and occasional comedy nights. Some on the right insist that they are “political prisoners” and are treated unfairly; many have made complaints about the jail, which was a troubled facility long before they arrived.

Last year, the complaints of one prisoner, a Florida Proud Boy named Christopher Worrell, occasioned an inspection by the Marshals Service of the main jail, where it found “large amounts of standing human sewage,” employees “antagonizing detainees,” and “a strong smoke and odor of marijuana” throughout the facility. The Marshals Service ordered 400 prisoners in the CDF transferred to a better facility. The CTF, on the other hand, met federal standards, it found.

This most recent report was ordered in the case of Robert Gieswein, an alleged Colorado militia member who the government said sprayed cops with an unknown substance during the riot and entered the Capitol brandishing a baseball bat. It was written by Marvin Bickham, who has been assigned to monitor conditions at the DC Jail since last November. He observed conditions in the Sixers’ cellblock, C2B (or “Charlie Two Bravo,” in the jail’s lingo), at least once a week. In this capacity, he writes, he has “observed no systemic issues” that would require the court to extend the deficiency finding to the CTF.

In one passage, Bickham notes that many of the prisoners’ complaints could be swiftly remediated if they availed themselves of coronavirus vaccines. Almost all the prisoners on the Sixers’ block are unvaccinated, two people who reside there told Washingtonian late last year:

Other issues, such as lack of enough computers to review discovery in their cases, “are not trivial,” Bickham writes, but “as of this writing, the present conditions at CTF appear to be largely appropriate and consistent with federal prisoner detention standards, particularly in light of DOC’s legitimate interest in protecting inmates and staff members from COVID-19.” You can read the report below:

Marvin Bickham’s report on the DC Jail’s Correctional Treatment Facility by Washingtonian Magazine on Scribd

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.