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Even the Jan. 6 Mob Defendants Deserve Proper Treatment

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Jail is not a pleasant place to live.

That’s pretty obvious to most folks. But that reality appears to have come as a revelation to some of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants.

“They’re running a jail, not a hotel,” Judge Emmet Sullivan said in a hearing Wednesday regarding complaints from riot defendants about jail conditions, according to CNN. “Some people want hotel services.”

Shades of the QAnon Shaman. Remember him? Also known as Jacob Chansley of Phoenix, he stood tall over in the Capitol invasion mob in his Viking-like horned helmet. Before he eventually pleaded guilty to a felony obstruction charge, he made news by requesting a special organic diet in the D.C. correctional facility — and, with court approval, receiving it.

A tougher case has been brought by Christopher Worrell, a member of the alt-right Proud Boys who is claiming mistreatment by District of Columbia jail officials.

He is charged with four felonies, including storming the Capitol and assaulting police with pepper spray gel, a reminder of how more than 100 police officers were injured. Five later died, four of them by suicide.

 

Still, like any other defendant under the Constitution, Worrell is entitled to receive proper medical care. Under that principle, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth held two D.C. corrections officials in civil contempt on Wednesday for their “inexcusable” delays in getting medical care to Worrell.

Although the judge quite properly thinks Worrell’s case has merit, many of those who are familiar with the long history of problems at the deteriorating 45-year-old D.C. jail agree that scrutiny of the facility should not be limited to this one case.

As The Washington Post editorialized, “Why was no attention paid to the problems when it was poor Black and Hispanic people complaining about the conditions?”

Why indeed? There’s a need for such probes in prison systems across the nation, especially in these pandemic times.

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