The conditions at District of Columbia prison facilities are “alarming” according to a new report that found an active infestation of vermin throughout the facility.
The report, released by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, said inspectors found holes in the walls, mold growth from a leaking roof and that “most of the plumbing fixtures were in different stages of disrepair.”
Not only are conditions deteriorating at the jail, but the city is paying far more than it should, the report said. The Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit company, has operated the city’s Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) since 1997 under a contract with the city.
Under that contract, the district is paying CCA a management fee that is 31 percent higher than the company’s reported average. The contract is set to expire in 2017, at which time the authors of the report advised not to renew it.
The District paid CCA a rate of $83 per prisoner per day in 2014, while the national average paid to the company came to just $63. In 1997, the first year of the contract, the District was required to pay CCA $70 per prisoner per day.
The report did state that different economic conditions and regulatory regimes across the country could lead to a degree of variation between rates, but it is unclear if that fully explains the high rates paid by the District.
The D.C. jail was opened in 1976 and the CTF was opened in 1992. Inspections in 2013 and 2014 found that “the cell blocks and several common areas were not maintained in a clean and sanitary manner and in good repair.”
Aside from the “active infestation of vermin/pests throughout the facility,” the report said there were multiple sanitation issues in the kitchen, including unsanitary equipment and health code violations related to refrigerated foods.
While these issues could easily be remedied by changes to sanitation practices, others, the report said, could not.
Water penetrating through walls, damage to many floors, walls and ceilings, concrete separating and “peeling paint on the walls throughout the facility,” were just some of the issues mentioned.
The report described the water leakage for mold growth, creating “a health and safety issue which can have serious effects.”
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