OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
For almost a year, Jacob Lang has been awaiting trial without bail in the D.C. penitentiary, along with many others accused of crimes connected to the January 6 riot at the Capitol. He and his fellow inmates wait in a jail they describe as inhumane as there is no trial date in sight. The J6 prisoners complained that they were living in filthy conditions and being treated inhumanely, which led to a surprise inspection that confirmed their claims. Over 400 prisoners were transferred to other facilities as a result of this decision, none of whom were J6 inmates.
The jail cut off Lang’s phone access while he was giving an interview to Newsmax TV. He has been in contact with PJ Media and other media sources. According to Lang, the jail cut off all internet access and phone privileges for detainees afterwards. The prison is now on lockdown, and Lang says he isn’t even able to call his lawyer.
Prisoners must be treated according to a set protocol, including pre-trial detainees who have a presumption of innocence regardless of the crime they’re charged with. In the cases involving the J6 arrestees, none of that seems to have been followed.
Lang wrote in a text message to his family, which they provided to PJ Media on behalf of him, “I am being held in true solitary confinement, locked in my cell 22 hours a day. In response to my viral Newsmax interview yesterday, where the D.C. jail cut my interview mid-sentence, and the automated message rung [sic] out on live national TV, ‘this call is being terminated by the jail.’ I have now been completely cut off from the outside world! They have suspended my phone and tablet access. I cannot talk to my family or my attorney. I literally have nothing left but food and my Bible.”
Lang also added that he has “no lawyer access, no visitation, no calls, no haircuts, and no religious services.”
During the video recording, Lang was seen with a baseball bat wielding and threatening a police officer. It was allegedly in self-defense as well as on behalf of those who were being trampled or suffocated to death. Lang maintains he didn’t bring the bat with him but found it on the ground. Lang says police attacked people, including Roseanne Boyland, who Lang claims police created a pile of people and she was pulled out from the bottom.
The solitary confinement began before Christmas, Lang told PJ Media a few days before the Newsmax interview, due to an alleged Covid outbreak. However, Lang says he doesn’t know anyone who is sick in his jail pod. “We are literally being mentally tortured in here,” he said. “Solitary confinement over 10 days was ruled by the Geneva convention to be cruel and unusual punishment and I’ve lived like that the first 200 days I got to this jail.” The prisoners were given five hours of free time each day after that, which Lang says is a small improvement. Before Christmas, however, everything changed. “Now we’re back to this 22-hour lockdown and two hours out a day.”
“They let out two or three people at a time so we get minor human interaction,” he said. “There are some people in here who have really been drained by this.”
Lang claims they are treated like animals. “We are considered innocent until proven guilty and we are supposed to have all of our rights afforded to us except our freedom of movement,” he said. “Our privacy rights are supposed to be maintained. Our freedom of speech rights are supposed to be maintained. How could I have my freedom of speech rights if I’m locked in a cell away from my lawyer, away from my family, away from doing interviews?”
In the absence of a trial date and no indication as to how long he will remain in custody without a trial, Lang is growing increasingly frustrated. “I’ve lived [for] a year like this…they blame everything on covid. Where is it in the Constitution that during a bad flu season you can suspend everyone’s rights?”
In April, the Washington Post reported on massive lockdowns at the Washington, D.C., prison related to Covid, but no action was taken.
“It is a very dangerous situation that you describe,” said Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz who has studied the effects of solitary confinement. Haney said a year of “23 and 1” lockdown would ordinarily be reserved for those who commit extraordinary breaches of prison rules, most likely involving acts of violence.
The psychological and physical harms that such prolonged isolation can cause are legion, he added: depression, anxiety, heart disease, erosion of a sense of self and exacerbation of any existing mental illness, diabetes or hypertension. Those problems can last well after an inmate’s release.
“I understand that prisons and jails have been confronted with an extraordinary problem,” Haney said. “But this is not the solution.”
During Lang’s last telephone conversation after the Newsmax event, he sounded depressed. “I feel utterly abandoned by my country,” he said.
MOMENTS AGO: In the middle of an interview with Newsmax's 'American Agenda,' Jan 6 inmate Jake Lang's phone connection was "terminated by the facility" as he described conditions he's living in while behind bars.@HeatherChilders @BobSellersTV pic.twitter.com/KfCYLEFIvo
— Newsmax (@newsmax) December 29, 2021