Court Battles

Proud Boys leader alleges inhumane conditions at DC jail in bid for release

Associated Press / Allison Dinner

A national leader of the alt-right group Proud Boys asked a judge to release him from a D.C. jail and place him on home confinement, citing inhumane conditions.

Proud Boys Chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who was sentenced to five months in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter flag taken from a historic Black church, asked that his sentence be reduced to 90 days or that he be allowed to finish it under house arrest, according to The Washington Post.

“I’ve been to jail before and what I’ve seen here, I’ve never seen anywhere else,” Tarrio told Judge Jonathan H. Pittman. “This place needs to be shut down immediately.”

Tarrio said that he endured abuse from correctional officers, medicinal neglect and has been subjected to unsanitary conditions. He said that his cell is regularly flooded with dirty toilet water from a nearby cell, according to NBC News.

His lawyer, Lucas I. Dansie, said that Tarrio’s “meals are literally thrown in his cell, cold and frequently inedible,” the Post noted.

Tarrio also detailed an incident in which a prisoner had a seizure and was left to lay there for a half-hour before any medical help arrived. He said the conditions were “insane,” calling it a “gulag.”

“I’ve been in jail before, but what I’ve seen here, I’ve never seen before,” the 37-year-old said.

“I’m deathly afraid that something is going to happen to me,” he later said, according to NBC.

While attorneys for the D.C. Department of Corrections disputed many of his claims at Monday’s hearing, they acknowledged some of the conditions described by Tarrio. They said the flooding was from a prisoner who regularly flooded his toilet in protest, NBC reported.

However, they denied any mistreatment of Tarrio.

Pittman said he would issue a ruling later this week but expressed skepticism of his claims.

“It is obviously distressing to hear of these conditions,” he said Monday. “I come back to the same question: How is Mr. Tarrio’s condition any different than any other inmate at the jail?”

Numerous Jan. 6 defendants have also filed suits about the D.C. facility, which led to a surprise U.S. Marshals Service inspection in October. They found that water in some areas “had been shut off for days” as punishment, which created an “overpowering” stench from “standing human sewage,” said Lamont J. Ruffin, the acting marshal for U.S. district court in Washington, according to the Post.

The findings prompted the Justice Department to announce plans to transfer 400 federal prisoners from a total population of about 1,500 to a facility in Lewisburg, Pa. The process began last week, according to authorities. 

Tarrio and the Jan. 6 defendants were not set to be part of that transfer, but he cited it as proof for his claims, NBC noted

“They don’t move 400 prisoners for nothing,” Tarrio said. 

Tags D.C. jail Proud Boys
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