One of the hallmarks of the American justice system used to be its fairness at all levels. There was a time when individuals who were accused of a crime were presumed innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of the personal and political beliefs of a prison guard or a corrections officer, U.S. prisoners were expected to be treated with respect and their rights maintained while behind bars.
If the stories about the brutal treatment endured by some of the Capitol riot suspects are true, then justice itself has become the latest casualty in the left’s war on America.
Politico reports that one Capitol riot suspect, Ryan Samsel, was beaten so severely by a corrections officer at a Washington, D.C. jail, that he is now said to be partially blind.
One of the Capitol riot suspects, Ronald Sandlin, appeared in court last Tuesday and described conditions at the D.C. jail where many of them are being held. According to Politico, the defendant said, “Tensions are running high between guards and inmates” and they are “locked in their cells with virtually no human contact for 23 hours a day.”
Sandlin appeared remotely for a bail hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich. He told her that “the guards have subjected those charged in the Jan. 6 events to violence, threats and verbal harassment” … and “mental torture.”
“Myself and others involved in the Jan. 6 incident are scared for their lives, not from each other but from correctional officers,” Sandlin said. “I don’t understand how this is remotely acceptable.”
Referring to Samsel, Sandlin said he “was severely beaten by correctional officers, [is now] blind in one eye, has a skull fracture and a detached retina.”
Sandlin said that another suspect, Richard Barnett, 60, who was photographed during the riot with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, was “tackled to the ground” by a guard. Barnett was charged with “entering the Capitol with a stun,” entering Pelosi’s office and “stealing a piece of mail from her office.”
He spoke of the racial tensions between the guards, who are primarily minority, and the suspects, who are mostly white. One guard shouted, “I hate all white people and your honky religion.” Politico notes several suspects have been “publicly accused of membership in or association with white supremacist groups.”
Sandlin, who posted photos “of himself smoking a joint in the Capitol Rotunda, is accused of tussling with multiple U.S. Capitol Police officers guarding the Senate chamber and trying to rip the helmet off of one of them.”
Samsel, “who is currently on parole in Pennsylvania and is wanted for an unrelated alleged assault in New Jersey, is charged with toppling barricades on top of police officers, telling one, “We don’t have to hurt you, why are you standing in our way?”
Attorneys for Samsel and Barnett told Politico they confirmed the events that Sandlin had discussed with the judge. One of Barnett’s attorneys, Joseph McBride of New York said. “There is a pattern of abuse and of targeting of the defendants who are being held pursuant to what happened on Jan. 6. It is targeted. It is ruthless. It is nonstop.”
The Washington Post spoke to Steven Metcalf, one of Samsel’s attorneys on Wednesday, “This is unjustified, and the way that these guys are being treated is completely unreasonable, it’s wholly unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter what these guys are being charged with. All of these guys are still pretrial detention; they have not been convicted of any crimes. And this is what they’ve been forced to endure.”
Metcalf said he had learned about the incident from Samsel. On March 20, Samsel had complained that it had “taken hours” for the guards to bring him toilet paper.
According to the Post, “An argument ensued. That evening, according to Metcalf, Samsel was moved to another cell. Around midnight, the lawyer said, two guards came to that cell, restrained Samsel’s arms behind his back with zip-tie handcuffs and ‘beat him to a bloody pulp.'”
“Samsel did not regain consciousness until the next day, according to Metcalf, and has since suffered seizures for the first time in his life. His nose was allegedly broken, his jaw dislocated and his vision in one eye damaged. Metcalf said he saw Samsel by video two weeks later, and his client’s face was still black and blue and the skin around his wrists stripped off.”
The D.C. Department of Corrections issued a statement which said the jail “takes the safety and well-being of all residents, staff, and contractors extremely seriously. We are aware of the allegation made by an inmate and it is under investigation by the Department of Justice.”
According to the Cornell Law School website, even convicted prisoners are entitled to some citizenship rights. First and foremost, they are protected under the Eighth Amendment from cruel and unusual punishment. They are entitled to due process, appeals and other rights.
While these stories have not yet been proven, we’ve heard of dramatic, Roger Stone style arrests of individuals charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion. And we know that law enforcement has been hyperfocused on rounding up and prosecuting as many individuals as possible.
And many of us wonder why they chose to ignore the riots that took place in the summer of 2020 which caused death, injury and billions of dollars worth of property damage throughout the U.S.