In the Spotlight
By Alicia Powe
Published December 9, 2022
Guest post by Olivia Wolfe:
“They are feeding us turkey byproduct salad,” said 30-year-old James Grant on a phone call from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, where he has been held since January in pre-trial detention. — for 11 months
“I’ve heard from inmates that work at the kitchen that the bags of vegetables say ‘chicken feed’ on them.”
Grant is charged as Ryan Samsel’s co-defendant for his participation in Jan 6 protests.
He was supposed to start his first semester of law school on a merit scholarship but has been stuck in a literal cesspool—overflowing sewage and feces-flooded cells, moldy rotten food, inaccessible discovery materials, and hardly any resources to prepare for his looming trial in March.
“It has been a tough ride lately.”
Northern Neck Regional Jail was recently slapped with a $46 million wrongful death suit due to medical negligence and denial of care by people unrelated to Jan 6th.
The jail became the subject of controversy after another Jan 6 inmate filed a complaint against the Northern Neck Jail Superintendent Ted Hull and Attorney General Merrick Garland for rights violations back in April.
In an email exchange, when the lawyer asserted the jail was violating his client’s human rights Hull responded, “Then sue me.”
Three days after the complaint against the jail was made public, fourteen members of Congress sent a letter to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons demanding an immediate investigation. Within 24 hours the director resigned, although eight months later the conditions in the jail have not changed.
Court filings describe gross negligence on behalf of the jail: purposeful withholding of food as punishment, prolonged solitary confinement, many instances of physical and psychological torture, denial of basic personal hygiene, confiscated legal and medical paperwork, physical attacks by known gang members, confiscated commissary food, inadequate access to counsel, and more.
In addition to [conditions no human could live in], Grant had not heard a peep from his lawyer in over three months.
Without anything on his docket, unable to communicate with his lawyer due to the jail’s right-to-counsel violations, and only four phones for eighty inmates, he has been left in the dark.
“I thought I was looking at 16-21 months, then I found out I am facing 7.5 to 9 years, and then the call got cut off,” Grant said about their last conversation.
But his looming case is the least of his concerns when daily life is about basic survival. It costs roughly $500 per month for commissary, basic toiletries and to communicate with loved ones while in jail. (A profiteering scheme which is being looked at by Virginia lawmakers)
With little to no support from the outside and 4 months before his trial, it’s a long road ahead for Grant.
Grant wrote a letter to the Gateway Pundit, published in full below:
My name is James Grant, and I’m writing this letter from jail because I attended the rally to support President Trump on January 6th. I don’t meet the expectation most people have for a “J6er”. Before January 6th, I was a full-time student. As an outspoken conservative majoring in political science, I graduated with honors from North Carolina State University (Attending liberal colleges as a republican today is extremely difficult). More recently, I was accepted into a top law school and was awarded a merit scholarship that would have paid for 75% of tuition costs. This fall would have been my first semester. I was planning on focusing on criminal and Constitutional law. Now I’ll have to settle for watching my would-be law school play college football from jail. I fear my dream of a legal career is in serious danger, especially since I’m facing several felonies.
When I’m not either in college or part of the largest criminal prosecution in American history, I live with my family outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. My parents are both retired, and my only sibling is my older, special-needs brother who lives at home with us. My father retired from an extensive career in law enforcement, and my mom was a teacher who specialized in working with the disabled. The FBI arrested me for January 6th while I was away from my house. They then sent dozens of armed agents (and a few local police for backup) to my suburban home to execute a search of my house – that I was not at. Both of my parents were at a doctor’s appointment for my father’s failing kidneys. With my parents not home, this left my special-needs to respond to an FBI raid (for an alleged crime that took place 9 months earlier and 300 miles away).
My parents were mortified when they came home to see flashing police lights and a half dozen federal vehicles parked outside their home – in a neighborhood they had planned to retire in. The subsequent fallout from January 6th has greatly strained my relationship with my family.
I’m currently being held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia. There are regularly inmates who have spent years in maximum security penitentiaries that claim NNRJ is the worst facility they have ever been to. A great deal of the food they serve inmates at Northern Neck is several years past its expiration date. On more than one occasion, raw sewage water with feces and urine flowed into the inmates’ living area. We were unable to flush the toilets during this incident because flushing them made the sewage water rise even more. Many lawyers decline to speak to inmates on recorded lines, which means they must show up in person to speak to their clients. My attorney is based out of D.C., so he has to drive over 2 hours to Warsaw to simply discuss my case with me. Further, we can only view evidence at night from 7-10 p.m.. Needless to say, it’s impossible to properly prepare for trial given these conditions.
At this point, I’m very unsure about what the future holds. I’ve been incarcerated for almost a year (Ironically since January 6th). I just celebrated my 30th birthday in jail. The only criminal conviction on my record is a misdemeanor traffic infraction, but the FBI has charged me with nearly a dozen federal crimes from the 6th. I fit in with other inmates about as well as Andy Dufrane did in Shawshank Redemption (Which is not well if you haven’t seen the movie). My trial is currently set for spring of 2023, but even just communicating with my lawyer is extremely difficult at this facility. But despite everything, I’m still very grateful for everything I have. This experience has given me many new perspectives, including a chance to get closer to God. I’ve also received letters of support from kind Americans across the country.
I want to thank you for reading my story. I only ask that you share it as much as possible and keep praying for J6ers. Any help is appreciated.
You can listen to Grant’s full call into the nightly vigil outside the DC jail below:
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