Citing jail conditions, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio – leader of far rightwing group the Proud Boys – is asking to be released prior to finishing a five-month sentence for burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a church in Washington, D.C.
Judge Jonathan Pittman, of the D.C. Superior Court, said he would rule on reducing the sentence by the end of the week, though the judge reportedly took a skeptical tone during conversation with Tarrio, leaving the prisoner looking discouraged.
Tarrio says he has been harassed by corrections officers and exposed to inhumane conditions while in jail, including a cell that frequently floods with sewage water from neighboring inmates.
"I’ve been to jail before and what I’ve seen here, I’ve never seen anywhere else. This place needs to be shut down immediately," he told the judge. "I'm deathly afraid that something is going to happen to me."
Government attorneys have acknowledged that there are issues with the jail but say they are being worked on. And they have denied that Tarrio had been specifically mistreated or denied his rights.
Tarrio's complaints about the D.C. central jail mirror those of several participants in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach who are being held there and have consistently complained of problematic conditions.
In October, a federal judge held the D.C. corrections director and jail warden in contempt of court and asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the rights of inmates were being compromised. D.C. and the U.S. Marshals Service struck a deal just days ago to improve conditions at the holding facility.
Several Jan. 6 defendants have filed lawsuits about the D.C. central jail facility. One such case led to a no-notice inspection by the marshals last month, during which systemic abuse and unsanitary conditions were found at the jail.
Tarrio, unlike several dozen other members of the Proud Boys, was not at the Capitol breach. He had been arrested days prior and ordered to stay out of D.C. He pleaded guilty to destruction of property in connection with the banner burning, and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.