Republicans are being criticized for staying silent about the reportedly harsh treatment of people arrested and detained in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot while some leading Democrats speak out about it.
A majority of the more than 300 people arrested in the wake of the riot have since been released as they await their trials, Politico reported earlier this week. But dozens more, who have been deemed flight risks or risks to obstructing justice, are still being held without bond in a Washington, D.C., detention facility with a historically bad reputation for abusing inmates, some of whom have already reported, via their attorneys, being mistreated and beaten by guards.
In addition, those detainees are held in isolation for 23 hours a day, ostensibly to protect them and other inmates, as they wait for trial dates — treatment that Sens. Elizabeth Warran (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), both opponents of solitary confinement, are calling abusive, Politico notes.
“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Warren told the outlet. “And we’re talking about people who haven’t been convicted of anything yet.”
While at times use of solitary confinement is necessary, Warren said, she also is concerned that law enforcement and detention officials are using it to “punish” the defendants or as a means to “break them so that they will cooperate.”
Durbin agrees with his Democratic colleague, telling Politico that he was surprised that all of the remaining defendants in detention have been remanded to “restrictive housing.”
“While their defense of accused rioters’ rights as criminal defendants is unlikely to change the Justice Department’s handling of those cases, it’s a notable case of prominent progressives using their political clout to amplify their criminal justice reform calls even on behalf of Donald Trump supporters who besieged the entire legislative branch in January,” Politico reported.
Durbin, in an interview with the outlet, agreed as well that solitary should only be utilized in “rare exceptions.”
“There has to be a clear justification for that, in very limited circumstances,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Corrections told Politico that officials appreciated the concerns and that detainees were being offered additional amenities.
“We appreciate the concern, patience and support of our neighbors as we work to keep all within DC safe, as well as support the public safety of all in the District,” said spokesperson Keena Blackmon.
Earlier this month, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson reported that some inmates have testified in virtual hearings that they are being beaten and abused by jailers, some of whom are making racist statements because the inmates are white Trump supporters.
“Myself and others involved in the Jan. 6 incident are scared for their lives, not from each other but from correctional officers,” said Ronald Sandlin during a bail hearing by video before U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich.
“I don’t understand how this is remotely acceptable,” he continued, noting further that he was being subjected to “mental torture.”
He went on to testify that another inmate, Ryan Samsel, “was severely beaten by correctional officers, [is now] blind in one eye, has a skull fracture and detached retina.”
Carlson corroborated the inmate’s testimony while also revealing that the D.C. lockup has a notoriously bad reputation that is widely known among the city’s residents.
“Tonight we learned that a number of people arrested on Jan. 6 are still rotting in the D.C. jail, the municipal lockup,” Carlson said. “That’s one of the foulest places in this country, it is a truly a repulsive and mismanaged place. Ask anyone from Washington, D.C., ‘What would you do not to be thrown into the D.C. jail?’ It’s that bad.”
But while their plight appears to have been taken up by two leading Senate Democrats, Republicans have largely remained silent, which some have suggested is because the riot casts the party in a bad light.
“BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren speaks on on harsh treatment of Jan 6 detainees while GOP silent,” One America News Network’s Jack Prosobiec tweeted Thursday.
Others on Twitter also called out the shameful silence:
The GOP party without Trump at the helm is weak. Other than a few standouts, the party has become non-existent.
— DaLuckyOne (@DaLuckyOne1) April 22, 2021
Sample headline if a Republican Senator speaks up for the detainees.
“Republican Senator supports Insurrection!”
— Alan Pennington (@alanpennington) April 22, 2021
It’s not surprising that the GOP is not speaking out but it is surprising that she is. That’s amazing actually 💕💕
— KB✝️ (@krystalannbell) April 22, 2021
Between this news and the CNN interview with Lemon and Cuomo in support of the police officer, my head is about to short circuit that these people are actually talking sensibly. Good for them. That’s a great start. pic.twitter.com/Zqw521Egtd
— averagemom (@cheathammom) April 22, 2021
GOP is weak
— Harleen Kaur (@beingharleen) April 22, 2021