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District Task Force on Jails & Justice Statement Disapproving of DC's Proposed Jail Plan

June 7, 2024 - On May 16th, 2024, the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) gave a presentation to the District Task Force on Jails & Justice (Task Force) on its plans for a new jail facility. The Task Force met to discuss these plans on June 6th, 2024, and is issuing this statement to express disapproval for the plan as presented, and to request that the District prioritize replacement of the Central Detention Facility (CDF) and renovation of the Central Treatment Facility (CTF). Seventeen people have died in these facilities in the past seventeen months; it is unacceptable for the District to put forth a plan that doesn’t put these individuals’ lives first.

In DOC’s plan, Phase One would be an Administrative and Behavioral Health building to be completed in 2030; per administration officials, this facility would only include about 260 specialized beds for mental health, intake, and infirmary. This is a fraction of the beds needed to relocate people currently in CDF. Plans for a new general population “tower” – to which most of the individuals in CDF would be moved – is not scheduled for completion for a decade (in 2034), and currently is unfunded. 

The Task Force also requests greater transparency by DOC and the Department of General Services (DGS) around new jail planning. Basic information on the planning process to date has not involved public input, and (except for an executive summary of the resident and staff survey results) deliverables of CGL, the jail consultant being paid with taxpayer funds, have not been made public.

Additionally, the deaths in DOC facilities and firsthand reports from community members show an urgent need to address the culture and conditions in the current jail. We urge the District to engage in a robust investigation that results in a plan that keeps people physically and emotionally safe while a new facility is built.

In its report on the urgent need for a new jail facility, the Task Force recommended building, by 2026, a facility that, in combination with a renovated CTF, was sufficient to house all residents in a safe facility with a rehabilitative environment and programming. It also included a plan to bring all those in Bureau of Prisons facilities back to D.C., which is not even being considered in current DOC plans. The Task Force calls on the DOC, the D.C. Council, and the Mayor to also act on its recommendations for a  transformative system overhaul. Those recommendations, developed with input from people across the District, include alternatives to incarceration and community investments to shrink the District’s reliance on jails and prisons. We are disappointed that District leaders did not implement the majority of the Task Force’s recommendations to reduce the jail population prior to launching the jail planning process.

The Task Force stands ready to work with public officials and community members to return to the principles of these reports. We ask that DOC and District leaders engage with the Task Force and others who are most impacted by the jail to develop a plan to house and treat people who are held in custody as safely and humanely as possible.

About the Task Force. The District Task Force on Jails & Justice is an independent advisory body founded by CCE in 2019 dedicated to redefining and reinventing our local approach to corrections, ensuring our jail is one part of a just and equitable system creating safer communities in D.C.

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