D.C. jail under civil rights review, U.S. attorney general says

October 21, 2021 11:19 AM EDT

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland gives an opening statement during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. October 21, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing conditions at Washington's local jail after a judge held top officials there in contempt for impeding access to medical care for a defendant in the U.S. Capitol riots, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday.

"The Justice Department is conducting a review," Garland told lawmakers during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a wide range of topics.

The Justice Department's U.S. Marshals Service recently inspected the jail and the department's Civil Rights Division "is examining the circumstances," Garland added.

The review comes after U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Oct. 13 held District of Columbia Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth and Warden Wanda Patten in contempt for failing to turn over notes from a doctor for defendant Christopher Worrell.

Worrell, a Florida man who is a self-proclaimed member of the far-right Proud Boys group, is facing numerous criminal charges for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including assaulting police and civil disorder.

He suffers from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and broke his hand while in custody in May. Although a doctor in June recommended surgery for the injury, U.S. marshals were unable to arrange it because jail officials delayed in turning over notes with the doctor's diagnosis.

In his ruling, Judge Lamberth said he would refer the matter to the Justice Department for a civil rights investigation.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis)

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