More than 600 people were accused of participating in the January 6 “2021 United States Capitol attack”. While many of them have been released and are awaiting court, some of the accused are still being held without bail because officials consider them as “dangerous to society”, posing a high risk of obstruction of justice or escape. Recently, there have been reports of solitary confinement, torture and harsh conditions of detention, which has caused widespread criticism from the public.
Lawyers Steven Metcalf II and John Pierce, representing the accused, in an interview for the American newspaper “The Epoch Times” described the deplorable conditions in which their clients are being held. According to them, the prison cell resembles a third world country, where prisoners have to filter dirty water through a sock to make it somehow drinkable. In addition, the defendants, many of whom are awaiting trial in prison, often spend 23 hours a day in solitary cells, their communication with lawyers is restricted, and their rights are violated in every possible way.
One of the convicts was diagnosed with cancer shortly before his arrest, and in the six months that have passed since his imprisonment, he has never been allowed to see an oncologist. Another prisoner was severely beaten by a correctional officer and received “severe injuries that will remain for life” – he became blind in one eye and lost the ability to use one hand. It is possible that one or more of these defendants may die before trial.
The defense of one of the political prisoners claims that “the conditions of detention in the prison of the District of Columbia, in particular, become not only unconstitutional, but also violate all basic human rights, prisoners are abused both physically and psychologically, periodically frightening them.”
Some of the accused also claim to have suffered physical abuse. Ryan Samsel, accused of assaulting officers on January 6, says he was brutally beaten by two guards at a D.C. correctional facility. One of the officers kicked and beat him while he was lying on the floor. According to his lawyer, he was hospitalized after a brutal attack, he was diagnosed with a fracture of the eye socket wall. He risked becoming permanently blind in his right eye.
Jonathan Mellis, one of the prisoners convicted of participating in the events of January 6, wrote an open letter to the American people, in which he describes what, in his words, became “the most inhumane and disgusting in all 34 years of his life.” He was arrested on January 15, 2021, and since his detention, the US Department of Justice and the Biden administration have been doing everything in their power for the purpose of breaking his will. According to his letter, he has been isolated in a solitary small concrete cell for more than a month. In prison slang, a solitary cell is called a “hole,” and indeed, as Mellis writes, in it you “feel as if you were thrown to the bottom of a deep and dark pit.” In addition, the prison administration did not even bother to explain to the man why he was detained and when he would be released. The convict claims that being in a “hole” harms not only the body, but also the mind. He describes in detail how with every day spent in total isolation, he begins to notice how slowly he is losing his mind. Despair and frustration gradually turn into a prolonged depression that causes physical pain. “The 4 walls of this concrete box are closing in on you. Goosebumps run over your skin and you feel claustrophobic. This is a real nightmare,” writes Mellis. According to him, he did not use violence until he witnessed how the police continued to brutalize other protesters.
Meanwhile, family members of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot in the Capitol building on January 6, plan to sue the officer who shot her and the Capitol police for at least $10 million. In mid-April, federal prosecutors decided not to bring criminal charges against the killer, whose identity has not yet been disclosed.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice condemns the actions of representatives of the US penitentiary system, which violate not only the rights and freedoms of citizens, but also current international law, including the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, according to which prolonged solitary confinement is tantamount to torture. Statistics show that American justice has demonstrated bias and prejudice in the case of the participants of the January 6 protests, charges against whom are much more likely to reach arrest or trial, despite the fact that, according to official data, hundreds of charges against Black Lives Matter protesters involved in looting, vandalism and riots have been dropped. Human rights activists of the Foundation believe that the incriminated charges are politically motivated, aimed at intimidating conservatives who disagree with the current political agenda. This is confirmed by a survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, according to which about half of Americans agree that the that those charged with participating in the January 6 Capitol riot are “political prisoners.”