The mothers of six Washington, D.C. inmates called on city officials last week to investigate claims of torture at the District’s main prison facility.
Based on accounts they had received from their sons, other inmates and corrections officers, the women testified before a hearing by the city council’s judiciary committee on Oct. 24 that their sons were subjected to unlawful physical abuse at the hands of prison guards, the Washington Post reported.
The alleged abuse included incidents in which the inmates were stripped naked, beaten, deprived of bathroom and water facilities, sprayed with high-power hoses and denied medical care and access to their families.
Calling themselves “Mothers United to Stop Torture,” the six women urged council members to order a full investigation of the claims and dismiss any corrections officers found to have participated in the abuse.
“If dogs were mistreated as our sons have been, those responsible would be prosecuted for animal cruelty,” testified Sabrina Wynn, one of the mothers present, during the day-long hearing.
Wynn told the council members that the inmates were “repeatedly Maced in the face and genitals while huddled in their cells,” and “dragged to areas outside the view of video cameras to be beaten further.”
The prison recently installed 175 cameras throughout the facility to provide better monitoring and deter violence. The mothers and their sons’ lawyers have requested copies of the prison surveillance tapes recorded on the days the alleged abuse occurred, though it is unclear if any footage of the incidents exists.
After reports of the prison torture first surfaced, the D.C. Department of Corrections looked into the matter and has since turned the investigation over the U.S. attorney’s office. Since then, one of the corrections officers said to be the ringleader of the abuse has been reassigned, though no charges have been filed.