Jan. 6 Detainees Confined 23 Hours a Day, Attorneys Say

Jan. 6 Detainees Confined 23 Hours a Day, Attorneys Say
People are seen inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

Dozens detained in federal prison awaiting trial following the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building are being subject to solitary confinement, a lack of required medical care, and restricted access to defense counsel, according to two attorneys and the father of a defendant.

Lawyers John Pierce and Steven Metcalf II, who represent several of the defendants, told EpochTV’s “The Nation Speaks” that among the close to 500 arrested so far in connection with the Jan. 6 incident, more than 50 are being held pretrial in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, in conditions that are “unconstitutional” and violate “every single basic human right.”

Pierce said these individuals are being detained by federal judges under the 1984 Bail Reform Act, which, under certain circumstances, authorizes pretrial detention if it’s believed the individuals are a threat to the community or a flight risk.

“There are about 50 plus or minus that are being detained, that have been in prison for months and will likely remain in prison for many more months until their day in court,” Pierce said.

Ned Lang, the father of a defendant who he said is receiving particularly harsh treatment, said his son Jake is currently detained in a Washington prison in an area called “the hole.”

“[Jake] has no access to when [his attorney] goes down and talks to him. He has no access to a private interview with an attorney. It’s like you’re in a third-world country. It’s unbelievable,” said Lang. “From what he’s telling me and what I’m hearing, it’s solitary confinement 23 hours and one hour out a day. It’s horrible.

“These are Americans, we have individual rights, we have our Bill of Rights. This is inhumane treatment.”

Expanding on Jake Lang’s treatment in detention, Metcalf charged that he is being denied his constitutional rights by having only restricted access to defense counsel.

“I’m being told the water is black—he has to filter the water through a sock in order to even drink water,” Metcalf said. “In addition to only going out one hour a day, there’s also the weekend, [when] he doesn’t get out at all, and he’s not able to use a shower, get a shave for days on end.”

These conditions for pretrial detainees, he said, are unusual.

“The conditions in the D.C. jail in particular are getting to a point of not only being unconstitutional and violating every single basic human right, but they’re getting to a point where people have to speak out, and they have to know about what’s going on,” he said.

Metcalf accused authorities of instilling a “level of fear” in all of the inmates, but added that it’s unclear who is to blame for the conditions.

“Anything that they do, or if anybody speaks up on their behalf, all of a sudden, they get targeted even further and then get put into a dangerous, unsanitary condition,” the attorney said.

Testifying at an oversight hearing held by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the FBI had divided the thousands of protesters who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 into three groups: a first group of “peaceful, maybe rowdy” protesters who didn’t participate in the breach and made up the largest group; a second group who engaged in criminal trespass of the Capitol Building; and a third group—the smallest in number—who were responsible for carrying weapons into the Capitol.

Close to 500 arrests have been made so far among those in the second and third groups, Wray told the committee. The Department of Justice previously stated that the majority of the cases are related to entering a restricted building, obstruction of an official proceeding, and civil disorder.

The FBI director also testified that the law enforcement agency considered the events that unfolded on Jan. 6 to be an act of “domestic terrorism.” When asked by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) whether the events could be considered an “insurrection,” Wray said it would be inappropriate to describe the breach as such.

“In my role as FBI director, because that’s a term that has legal meaning, I really have to be careful about using words like that,” Wray said, noting that what he says could affect ongoing criminal cases.

Democratic lawmakers have pushed the narrative that the Jan. 6 breach was an “insurrection,” largely during the January impeachment effort against former President Donald Trump. No one who participated in the breach has been charged with insurrection.

On June 23, Indiana woman Anna Morgan-Lloyd, 49, was put on probation, in the first sentencing stemming from the Jan. 6 breach.