Federal Judge Appointees to Inspect DC Jail Facilities

A federal court judge appointed two individuals April 9 to inspect the DC Department of Corrections (DC DOC) jail facilities.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly appointed Grace M. Lopes and Mark Jordan, as independent advisors to inspect the facilities. According to DC Courts, Lopes is a court-appointed arbiter in the juvenile justice system. D.C. Witness could not immediately verify information on Jordan. 

According to a consent order that was signed by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, Lopes and Jordan will enter the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) and the Central Detention Facility (CDF), unannounced, with equipment, including cell phones, cameras and writing tools, to assess the facilities’ state during the pandemic. The two inspectors will be allowed to speak with both inmates and staff members.

During the inspection the appointees are tasked with answering several medical and health and hygiene questions, including whether residents are tested for COVID-19; receive adequate and timely medical attention when displaying COVID-19 symptoms and isolated. The inspectors will also assess if new inmates are quarantined for two-weeks.  

As of April 8, the DC government is reporting that there are 37 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19. Those inmates have been isolated.

Data also shows that 230 inmates are being quarantined as a result of COVID-19.

The appointments are in response to a class-action lawsuit. The defendants in the lawsuit are Quincy Booth, director of the DC DOC, and Lennard Johnson, warden at DC DOC. The plaintiffs are Edward Banks, Keon Jackson, D’Angelo Phillips and Eric Smith. All four men are being held in custody at the DC DOC. 

According to the plaintiffs, the DC DOC has violated their, and other inmates’, constitutional rights. On March 30 the plaintiffs in the case filed a temporary restraining order and a motion for preliminary injunction, saying COVID-19 poses a threat to the inmates being held in the CDF and CTF. 

“With over 1600 vulnerable residents in its care and months to prepare for this coming catastrophe, the Department of Corrections has proven that it will not, and cannot, ensure the reasonable health and safety of its residents,” the motion said. 

According to the DC DOC website, several procedures have been put into place to ensure inmate and staff health and safety during the pandemic, including prioritized medical visits, a two week quarantine for new inmates, weekly bars of soap for inmates and hand sanitizer for staff. The full plan can be seen on the department’s website.  

“My point is not to credit one side’s claims or the other’s, but I need to have answers, facts, and someone who actually goes in and looks,” Judge Kollar-Kotelly said during a motion hearing on April 7.