D.C. inmates are demanding cleaning supplies and hygiene products in a bid to better protect themselves as the coronavirus, COVID-19, continues its rapid spread across the nation.
According to CNN, on Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union and D.C. Public Defender’s Service brought the class-action lawsuit on behalf of four inmates, and the thousands of other residents in the city jail, describing horrifying conditions, such as running out of soap and not having access to cleaning supplies.
“Defendants have not provided additional soap free of charge since the first distribution of the single bar of soap, nor did Defendants inform residents when they will receive more soap,” the lawsuit, which described conditions as cruel and unusual punishment, claimed, according to CNN. “Consequently, some residents have already run out of their single allotted bar, while others are not using the single bar because they do not know when the next bar will come.”
The inmates also do not have access to hand sanitizer or proper cleaning supplies.
“On at least one unit, a closet full of cleaning supplies and clean rags is present, but residents are told they will be punished if they attempt to access or use those supplies to clean the unit, their own cells, or their hands and bodies,” the complaint added.
According to the lawsuit, inmates are told to clean their cells with water and their own limited soap and are left to use the same bath towels and rags they use on their bodies to keep their cells clean.
The lawsuit is demanding that inmates have access to daily showers and clean laundry, as well as access to hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, running water, no-touch trash cans, hand sanitizer and more.
The suit also calls for the Department of Corrections to “take all actions within their power to reduce the inmate population” of the facilities in response to the crisis, “through the “COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, which allows the Department of Corrections ‘to award additional credits beyond the limits described. . . to effectuate the immediate release of persons sentenced for misdemeanors[.]'”
So far, there have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in DC’s Department of Corrections, and the lawsuit accuses the DOC of moving slowly and insufficiently to combat the crisis.
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