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A program founded by a Jan. 6 defendant aims to make it easy for families to visit their loved ones being held in pretrial detention or as prisoners in the District of Columbia jail.
Shane Jenkins, who faces his own trial on March trial on 10 criminal counts from his presence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, hopes to raise enough money so every Jan. 6 detainee or inmate in the jail can receive a family visit.
“It’s been almost two years for most of us,” Jenkins said in a statement announcing “Operation Love Wins,” sponsored by his organization The Real J6.
“We are asking fellow patriots to donate money, airline miles, hotel points, or other travel resources to aid us in this mission. Every penny of this will go to our cause,” Jenkins said in a news release.
Donations will provide airfare, lodging, food, and local transportation for up to four members per family of the more than two dozen J6ers held in the Correctional Treatment Facility in the District of Columbia.
A recent visit to the “DC Gulag” by U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) helped secure approval for family visits to the facility. Some of the detainees have not seen family for more than two years since their arrests.
“We started with a goal of $50,000 to get each individual at least one visit,” Sarah McAbee, director of public affairs for The Real J6, told The Epoch Times. “If it takes off and there is more money, we will be able to fund more than one trip. If not, we will evenly distribute the leftover money to their commissary accounts.”
McAbee, whose husband Ronald “Colt” McAbee used to be held in the D.C. correctional facility but was moved to a Virginia jail in late 2022, said the program is needed because most of the J6ers held in D.C. are the family breadwinners. Their incarceration put a huge financial strain on families. She told Jenkins they could appeal to frequent travelers to donate miles or hotel points.
“I explained to him that many corporate people, like myself, travel often and collect travel rewards, whether it be airline miles or hotel points,” McAbee said. “There are some people that I know personally that have so many rewards that they will never be able to use all of them even if they wanted to, so they would like to donate them to a good cause.”
Those who want to donate airline miles or hotel points should send an email to info@therealJ6.com.
McAbee said the in-person visits are so important to detainees and family members because they can’t experience a hug or a touch via letters or video calls. The D.C. facility has not yet set up a video-chat system for families.
“Physical touch is so powerful,” she said. “It has health benefits such as boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress hormones, and even triggering the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.
“Something that we on the outside take for granted, such as reaching out to grab another’s hand, can convey a wide range of emotions for them—reassurance, empathy, comfort, love, and compassion.”
“Operation Love Wins” seeks to be an antidote to the dark cloud that has hung over the D.C. jail complex since the first Jan. 6 defendant was sent there shortly after that fateful day.
Detainees have reported being beaten by staff, deprived of food, forced to sleep under bright lights, enduring filthy conditions such as black mold and backed-up toilets, and being held in solitary confinement for months at a time.
Defense attorney Joseph D. McBride wrote an 11-page report on jail conditions and filed it with the human-rights group Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Neither group responded to the report.
“Pretrial detainees are being tortured while in federal custody in violation of Supreme Court precedent,” McBride wrote, “as well as the United Nations Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, otherwise known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, which were recently incorporated by reference and codified as law, in New York State.”
After her visits to the D.C. jail complex in 2021, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene issued a 28-page report, “Unusually Cruel: An Eyewitness Report from Inside the D.C. Jail.”
A group that includes Micki Witthoeft, whose daughter Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed at the Capitol on Jan. 6, holds a prayer vigil every night outside the D.C. jail. Inside the facility, the Jan. 6ers sing the National Anthem together every night.
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