Conservative Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman Louis Gohmert attempted to enter a jail in Washington DC where Capitol riot defendants are being held.
The prisoners have complained about the jail’s conditions, but a recent inspection by US Marshals found that the facility was suitable for the accused Capitol rioters.
Ms Greene and Mr Gohmert tried to enter the jail but were stopped at the entrance by a corrections worker.
“What are you hiding? Really, what are you hiding?” Ms Greene asked the corrections worker.
The worker refused to allow the pair to enter and recommended they call the jail’s director if they wanted to tour the facility.
Ms Greene made a number of incorrect claims while trying to argue her way into the facility.
At one point, she said that as members of Congress they have “oversight over the District,” which is true, but that does not mean that individual members of Congress can simply do whatever they want within the district.
She also claimed that the corrections worker could not deny inmates visitors.
“These people are being held pre-trial, they have not had their day in court yet, you cannot deny them visitors,” she said. “You’re completely out of line in your position.”
Not only is pre-trial incarceration extremely common for the accused throughout the US, but corrections officers can deny visitation for virtually any reason. Prisoners are not granted visitation rights under the US Constitution and many facilities only allow immediate family members or an inmate’s legal representation to visit.
It is notable that the Republican lawmakers did not previously voice concerns over the US prison population until Capitol riot defendants were locked up in prison.
“I’d like to see the whole facility, I’m concerned about every single person staying here,” Ms Greene claimed.
Mr Gohmert likened the facility to “a tomb.”
More than 113 million Americans have had at least one close family member in jail or prison, where violence is rampant and recidivism rates suggest that 68 per cent of inmates will be arrested again within three years. According to the Brennan Centre for Justice, after nine years, that number rises to 83 per cent.
Conservative lawmakers like Ms Greene have tried to push an alternative narrative about the Capitol riot defenders, suggesting they were largely peaceful protesters who have been wrongfully targeted and jailed.
She claimed the attack on the Capitol was “just a riot” and that the Declaration of Independence calls Americans “to overthrow tyrants”.