One of the hallmarks of the American justice system used to be its systematic commitment to 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 incursion suspects are true, then justice itself is becoming the latest casualty in the left’s war on America.
According to a Politico report, attorneys for defendants in the incursion say one suspect, Ryan Samsel, was beaten so severely by corrections officers at a Washington, D.C., jail, that he is now said to be partially blind.
Another suspect, Ronald Sandlin, appeared in court last week 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 Tuesday for a bail hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, Politico reported. 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, according to Politico. “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,” Politico reported.
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 gun,” entering Pelosi’s office and “stealing a piece of mail from her office.”
Sandlin also 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,” Sandlin said, according to Politico.
Politico noted that several of the incursion 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,” Politico reported.
According to Politico, 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 Tuesday.
“This is unjustified, and the way that these guys are being treated is completely unreasonable, it’s wholly unconstitutional,” Metcalf said, according to The Post. “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,” the newspaper reported. “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,” The Post reported. “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.”
According to The Post, the D.C. Department of Corrections issued a statement that 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 also entitled to due process, appeals and other rights — including the presumption of innocence.
While these stories have not yet been proven, we know that law enforcement has been hyperfocused on rounding up and prosecuting as many individuals associated with the Capitol incursion as possible and holding them under questionable conditions.
And many of us wonder why the treatment afforded these men and women is so different from the way law enforcement and the mainstream media treated those who participated in the riots that took place in the summer and fall of 2020, which caused death, injury and billions of dollars worth of property damage throughout the U.S.
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