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Federal Court Terminates 17-Year Population Cap at DC Jail

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

(Washington, DC) The DC Department of Corrections (DOC) announced today that Judge William B. Bryant of the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted the DOC's motion to vacate the population capacity limit at the Central Detention Facility (DC Jail). The population "cap" was imposed in the August 1985 Campbell v. McGruder court ruling. Its termination reflects the positive, collaborative efforts of the Corporation Counsel, Plaintiff's Counsel, the Special Officer of the Court and DOC staff.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams stated today that Judge Bryant’s ruling is consistent with his mandate to return control of District services to city management.  “This action validates the efforts of the Department of Corrections to totally eliminate the overall 30-year court-ordered oversight of the DC Jail,” said Mayor Williams.

Corrections Director Odie Washington stated, “To be released from the population “cap” will allow this agency to utilize critical detention beds at the Jail for our criminal justice partners.”  He continued, “We have the capacity to house over 2,200 offenders in a safe and secure manner.  This ruling permits the agency to access the bed capacity necessary to meet the needs of the District and Superior Courts, US Parole Commission, US Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”

The ruling reflects the continuous improvements at the DC Jail, including a $26 million capital improvement budget to renovate the water quality and air flow at the facility.  In addition, the Department regained control of the Jail’s medical/mental health program in September 2000, ending 30 years of court supervision in the Jail’s health services operations.  The Jail’s medical services were nationally accredited in October 2001. “Over the past three years we have been steadfast in our commitment to improve conditions at the Jail. This can be accomplished through adhering to best practices and meeting the highest correctional standards,” concluded Director Washington.