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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Partner Theodore Howard Secures Major Pro Bono Victory to Reduce DC Jail Overcrowding

August 29, 2007

Washington, DC - A significant victory secured in part by Wiley Rein Insurance and Litigation partner Theodore A. Howard on behalf of DC Jail inmates will require the DC government to remedy jail overcrowding after nearly four years of non-compliance with the inmate population cap imposed by the DC Jail Improvement Act of 2003. 

Enacted to address "unsafe, unhealthy and inhumane conditions" attributed to overcrowding, DC Council unanimously passed the Jail Improvement Act following two murders and a third near-fatal stabbing at the Jail in December 2002.

In granting summary judgment to the plaintiffs in Anderson v. Fenty, DC Superior Court Judge Melvin Wright categorically rejected the District of Columbia's argument that the prisoners lacked standing to sue because they could not point to any specific injury they have suffered as a result of the DC government's failure to take concrete action under the Jail Improvement Act.  Citing the statute's unambiguous and mandatory language, the judge ruled the city must submit in writing its plan to adhere to the 2003 legislation and reduce overcrowding by October 5, 2007. 

Mr. Howard worked on this pro bono matter in conjunction with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, where he serves on the Board of Directors.  Wiley Rein associates Justin Heminger and Swati Kabaria assisted Mr. Howard with research and analysis. 

Click here to read Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Media Advisory.