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Iowa senators propose resolution condemning jail treatment of Jan. 6 rioters


Iowa senators propose resolution condemning jail treatment of Jan. 6 rioters

Mar 23, 2023 | 5:48 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
Iowa senators propose resolution condemning jail treatment of Jan. 6 rioters
A pro-Trump mob breaks through police barriers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Screenshot from a video published by ProPublica)

Six Republican state senators have introduced a resolution condemning the treatment and punishment of people jailed and charged for participation in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Senate Resolution 8 would have the Iowa Senate denounce the federal and District of Columbia’s governments for the “abject dereliction of duty to ensure cruel and unusual punishments are not inflicted and to ensure the proper rights due prisoners are respected.” The measure would also urge President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Justice investigate and arrest D.C. correctional officers for violating federal law.

Sens. Sandy Salmon of Janesville sponsored the bill with Sens. Brad Zaun of Urbandale, Cherielynn Westrich of Ottumwa, Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge, Dennis Guth of Klemme and Kevin Alons of Salix. Salmon did not return messages seeking comment and Zaun declined comment Thursday.

People imprisoned and jailed for their actions at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, reported being subject to “tortuous squalor and cruel, abusive, and unconscionable living conditions” according to the resolution.

The resolution cites the testimonies of Jan. 6 participants who shared with their lawyers stories about untenable conditions. The bill cites allegations from Proud Boys leader Zach Rehl that he was held without bail and denied family visitations, and Christopher Worrell, also a Proud Boys member, that he was denied prescription medication and doctor visits for his cancer.

Jake Lang, who allegedly beat a police officer with a shield and bat during the insurrection, said he was given black water that he had to filter through a sock before drinking. No Iowa participants in the Capitol riot were named or referenced in the Senate proposal.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said the Senate Republicans supporting the resolution were siding with domestic terrorists over law enforcement.

“This resolution is an affront to American democracy and basic decency,” Wahls said in a statement. “… Iowa Senate Democrats join the vast majority of Iowans and Americans by standing for the rule of law, and with the law enforcement officials who defended American democracy during this dark hour of our nation’s history.”

Jan. 6 participants have claims of mistreatment and targeted abuse in D.C. correctional facilities for years. In 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service conducted a surprise inspection of D.C. jail conditions after sustained complaints from lawyers of insurrection defendants, and moved 400 jail residents to another facility after it found unacceptable living conditions. In October 2022, 34 Jan. 6 detainees wrote a letter to the federal court demanding to be moved to Guantanamo Bay because they said it provides better living conditions to inmates.

Lawmakers in South Dakota have also introduced a resolution condemning the treatment of Jan. 6 participants in correctional facilities.

The resolution was assigned to the Senate Rules and Administration committee for consideration.