A man charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was set to be released from the D.C. Jail Thursday after a federal judge ruled that staff likely will not provide the cancer treatment he needs.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted Chris Worrell’s petition for release on Wednesday, less than a month after holding two top D.C. Department of Corrections officials in contempt for failing to provide him proper medical treatment.
According to Mr. Worrell’s lawyer Alex Stavrou, the judge said that the “court has zero confidence that the D.C. jail will provide the treatment required by the defendant’s condition” and “will not retaliate against Worrell as they recently have against” others.
Mr. Worrell was being held at the Central Treatment Facility, where his lawyer estimates at least 40 other Jan. 6 detainees are being housed for the U.S. Marshals Service. Mr. Worrell’s release comes three days after the marshals service announced it is transferring all 400 inmates under its custody at a sister facility following a surprise inspection that revealed unsanitary conditions and mistreatment by jail staff.
The inspection came after the judge issued the contempt charges on Oct. 13 and also called on the Justice Department to look into “potential civil rights violations of January 6 defendants” by jail staff.
Although the judge requested a review specifically related to the Jan. 6 detainees, the marshals service said the decision to inspect both facilities was “prompted by recent and historical concerns raised regarding conditions at the D.C. DOC facilities, including those recently raised by various members of the judiciary.”
The marshals said the inspection of the facility where the Jan. 6 detainees are held did not reveal “conditions that would necessitate the transfer of inmates from that facility at this time.”
Mr. Worrell is accused of using pepper spray against police during the Capitol riot. He has been incarcerated at the facility since March 12 and has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstruction of Congress and assaulting a police officer.
Mr. Worrell was initially ordered to be held without bond pending trial because the court had determined there were “no conditions” that could be set for his release to ensure he would show up for the trial.
Mr. Stavrou said he will be going to his home state of Florida and attending future court hearings virtually, unless he is ordered to appear in person.
Jan. 6 detainees besides Mr. Worrell, however, have also complained about mistreatment by jail staff, including being denied access to food and water, as well as excessive solitary confinement.
Richard Barnett of Arkansas, who is shown in a widely-circulated photo with his foot on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, claims he was treated unfairly by DOC staff during his months behind bars before being released on bond in April.
In a letter sent in August to the American Civil Liberties Union Amnesty International, his lawyer Joseph McBride said a prison guard mocked Barnett when he was allegedly having a heart attack and another guard threatened to sexually assault him and his wife.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstruction of Congress, violent entry into the Capitol with a stun gun and stealing government mail.
Dominic Pezzola of New York has been detained since Jan. 15. His lawyers filed a motion for his release in July, arguing that personal hygiene access, including showers, is “nearly nonexistent” and many detainees said they have been denied haircuts.
Mr. Pezzola is accused of stealing a police officer’s riot shield and using it to smash a window for riotes to crawl through and enter the Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstruction of Congress and violent entry into the Capitol.
In April, the Jan. 6 detainees garnered unusual support for their claims from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat.
Ms. Warren, who has referred to the detainees as domestic terrorists, said she was concerned jail staff were using solitary confinement as a form of punishment or “to break them so that they will cooperate,” Politico reported.
“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Ms. Warren reportedly said. “And we’re talking about people who haven’t been convicted of anything yet.”