Washington, D.C., Fails To Cap Jail Population


The Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections has failed to comply with a 14-month-old law to improve conditions and operations at the city’s main jail after the stabbing deaths of two detainees and other inmate violence, the Washington Post reports. The city has not established a jail population cap to ease crowding. The law requires a cap based on the number provided by an outside consultant. The consultant recommended a ceiling of 2,164 a year ago; since then, the jail’s average monthly population has exceeded that figure by about 100 and one month reached 2,379. The Corrections Department also failed to submit required quarterly reports to the council on such items as jail environmental problems and inmate grievances.

“The response to the law, which was passed with a sense of urgency, has been abysmal,” said Philip Fornaci of the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. “The main thrust of the bill was to reduce overcrowding at the jail, but the mayor has refused to comply.” The deputy mayor for public safety and justice, Edward Reiskin, acknowledged that the executive branch has been remiss. “We have been a little bit delinquent following up on this law,” said Reiskin. “I’m not going to defend it.” Reiskin said the jail cap is difficult to address because the courts control the flow of inmates. About two-thirds of those held at the facility are pretrial defendants.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12259-2005Apr23.html

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