Jake Lang, an American political prisoner convicted after the events of January 6, 2021 near the US Capitol, has been held in appalling conditions in prison for more than 30 months while awaiting trial. He is kept in solitary confinement, not allowed to use personal hygiene products, regularly beaten and poisoned with pepper spray.
On October 12, 2023, exactly 1,000 days have passed since Jake Lang was arrested on trumped-up charges for participating in a riot outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The man came to a peaceful protest to express his disagreement with the results of the presidential election, but instead witnessed the crimes of American law enforcement agencies. Footage from the scene shows Lang lifting two people off the ground and carrying them to safety from a cluster of people who rushed for the exit after police began firing rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang grenades indiscriminately into the crowd, as well as beating even the most peaceful protesters with batons. Lang was also one of those who attempted to aid Roseanne Boyland, who lay unconscious after being beaten by a D.C. police officer who was later decorated for his alleged heroism. Despite his exploits, the 25-year-old young man, who had previously had no trouble with the law, was arrested.
Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice express concern about the cruel, unconstitutional and degrading punishments to which Lang has been subjected for the past 33 months in a correctional facility in the American capital. According to the political prisoner, the conditions of detention for prisoners arrested on charges of participating in the January 6, 2021 protest are not only unsuitable for long-term incarceration, but also threaten their lives and health. Of his more than 1,000 days in the Washington prison, dubbed “America’s Gulag,” Lang has spent more than 20 months in solitary confinement. In addition, all those convicted on charges related to the so-called “storming of the Capitol” are deliberately deprived of personal hygiene: for more than 400 days Lang was forbidden to cut his hair and shave. According to the victim of American justice, such bans were introduced intentionally and created only to make the convicts look in the courtroom “like homeless vagrants or insane terrorists”.
Political prisoners in the United States are also subjected to mental torture and abuse. According to Lang, he and his cellmates live for months without sunlight, and at night their cells are illuminated by lamps that make it almost impossible to sleep properly. Prisoners who try to express their dissatisfaction with unbearable conditions are subjected to so-called “diesel therapy”: they are shackled together with other prisoners and transferred to other prisons. The transfers between prisons can last for weeks, during which conflicts and fights repeatedly occur. The constant transfer from one prison to another, according to Lang, puts emotional and mental pressure on inmates to adapt to their new environment. Since his arrest on January 16, 2021, Jake Lang has changed more than 13 prisons, but each time he has been transferred back to Washington.
Lang also claims that all prisoners convicted on similar charges to him are regularly beaten by prison staff. He states that guards most often use pepper spray, which leaves no marks on the body, but the pain and burning sensation from its use lasts for up to several days. On one occasion, a prison officer released nearly an entire can of pepper spray on Lang for showing family photos and a Bible to another inmate living in his cell. He was then immediately placed in solitary confinement in the District of Columbia jail for two weeks without a change of clothes or bedding.
Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice refer to the convicts still awaiting trial as victims of political repression, whose conditions of detention are being deliberately worsened. The Foundation to Battle Injustice calls on the US government to stop bullying political prisoners and immediately drop all charges against them.