As we deal as a city and nation with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, reports have drawn attention to its devastating impact in congregate settings. Unlike other public-facing institutions, jails are populated with individuals who live, sleep, eat, bathe, exercise, and receive healthcare all in one place. This makes containing an extremely contagious virus challenging. As of May 15, 2020 residents of the D.C. jail were infected at 14 times the rate of the city population. To date, more than 200 inmates have tested positive with one fatality. The virus also impacts essential staff who work there - 87 DOC personnel members have tested positive, with one death reported.
Unfortunately, known dangers were exacerbated by ineffective leadership at the jail. As attorneys for the Correctional Officer’s union, Hanon Law Group immediately raised the alarm in a March 25, 2020 letter to Director Quincy Booth. From the perspective of the Officers at the time, the writing was on the wall - the jail was completely unprepared to face the imminent pandemic. Officers did not have access to adequate personal protective equipment. There were inadequate sanitization procedures, and the jail had not adopted the CDC’s guidance.
As a result, the union, through their attorneys HANNON LAW GROUP, joined forces with the Public Defender Services and ACLU in federal court. As amicus curiae, HANNON LAW GROUP provided the court behind the scenes information about the unsafe jail conditions. On June 18, 2020, the court issued a sweeping opinion, finding that management had acted with “deliberate indifference.” The court granted a partial preliminary injunction to overhaul the safety at the D.C. jail.
HANNON LAW GROUP is proud to have played a part in making the jail a safer place for our men and women in uniform. We hope that lives may have been saved as a result.