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D.C. Jail Inmates Settling Suit Over Poor Conditions During Pandemic

Detainees who identified unsafe conditions at the Washington, D.C., jail at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic have settled a lawsuit, agreeing to drop the case if the District government complies with up to a six-month term of unannounced inspections, data-sharing and continued inmate access to swift medical care and cleaning materials, reports the Washington Post. The proposed class-action settlement would end a two-year fight over allegations of mismanagement and mistreatment of inmates at the aged facility. The deal was submitted for a federal judge’s approval by attorneys for four inmates represented by the D.C. Public Defender Service, the American Civil Liberties Union, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and a law firm.

. Lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to set an April 12 hearing to approve a final deal . Lawyers for inmates said the prospect of unannounced inspections, requiring medical safeguards and barring the punitive use of quarantine and isolation will yield immediate benefits. “This settlement is an important victory for protecting the health and safety of residents at the D.C. jail, especially as the pandemic continues to evolve,” said Zoé Friedland of the public defender agency. Since Feb. 3, the D.C. jail has reported no inmates in pandemic quarantine or isolation. The figure hit an omicron wave peak of 1,081 on Jan. 10, or two-thirds of the inmate population, and roughly twice the number quarantined or isolated when delta-variant infections crested in October.

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