Trans woman accused in Capitol riot alleges prison abuse

A transgender woman charged in the Jan.6 riot at the United States Capitol said she was held naked in a constantly lit jail cell for four days, asking the court to be placed under house arrest. Prison officials denied the mistreatment.

Jessica Watkins is one of nine “Oath Keepers” accused of the events of January 6, when supporters of President Donald Trump burst into the US Capitol during the joint session of Congress to certify the election of Joe Biden.

Ahead of her detention hearing Tuesday before a federal judge, attorneys for Watkins filed a petition alleging her arm injury had not been treated, and when she went on a hunger strike for medical treatment, she was “Undressed and put under suicide watch” and “Left naked in a lighted cell 24 hours a day for four days in full view of all others,According to the Butler Journal-News.

Watkins, 38, was first incarcerated in the Montgomery County Jail when she was arrested in January. She was classified as a male, with a grade to “Stay separate,” said the newspaper. U.S. Army records list her as having served from 2001 to 2003 as Jeremy David Watkins.

However, the prison said on Sunday that “The allegations that have been described did not occur in our facility.” Transferred to the Butler County dungeon, Watkins spent four days there in a medical unit cell, separate from the general population, Sheriff Richard K. Jones said.

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“She said she would prefer to be in an isolated area, because of her notoriety, I guess,” he added.

Watkins’ treatment echoes the prison experience of another trans inmate, Chelsea Manning – also stripped naked and held in solitary confinement during the trial for providing documents on Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks ago is ten years old.

However, human rights and prison groups have remained largely silent about the alleged rioters on Capitol Hill, many of whom have been held without bail for more than a month. Meanwhile, former spies and some Democratic lawmakers have openly advocated using the same methods against people they have dubbed “Domestic violent extremists”, as the United States did against suspected terrorists during the “war on terror”.

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Democrats and mainstream media called the January 6 riot a « insurrection » and sought to impeach Trump on it, even citing the same laws used to punish the Confederates after the Civil War of 1861-1865. The new one « Oath Keepers » were not charged with insurgency, however, but with conspiracy to obstruct official proceedings, intrusion and destruction of government property.

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