Prison Assaults

Mothers United to Stop Torture v. District of Columbia(Mothers protest physical abuse by jail guards)
City Paper logo "Mace in the Hole." Washington City Paper. 22 June 2006.

“The probability that an odd virus . . . infected the recording capabilities of the . . . South 1 surveillance video cameras precisely during all these macings . . . with the handheld video cameras breaking at the same time is about as likely as two comets colliding, ” said Sparks. Read More

The Washington Post logo Inmates Awarded $248,000 for Abuse. Washington Post. 2 March 2006.

“The U.S. attorney's office has launched an investigation in conjunction with the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, and a new group of inmates represented by Douglas R. Sparks, is preparing to file suit. ”

The Washington Post logo D.C. Inmates ‘Tortured,’ Mothers Say. Washington Post. 25 October 2005.

“The inmates [were] repeatedly maced in the face and genitals while huddled in their cells,’ Wynn said . . . and were ‘dragged to areas outside the view of video cameras to be beaten further.’ This year, the corrections department installed 175 surveillance cameras throughout the jail . . . to serve as a deterrent to violence. The mothers, and their attorney, Douglas R. Sparks, said [the jail has not produced the videotapes]. Read More

9 News logo D.C. Jail Inmates “Tortured:” Is this D.C.’s Abu Ghraib? CBS - W*USA News, The Derek McGinty Show. 24 October 2005.

“Mothers are worried human rights stop at the jail gates. What is this country willing to accept?”

ABC News logo Inmate Abuse? ABC-7 News - WJLA. 7 October 2005.

Attorney Sparks says: “The strip searches were improper and overly aggressive.”

Joseph Harris v. District of Columbia, et al. (Prisoner disfigured when attacked by inmate with pot of boiling grease)
Fox 5 News Fox 5 News Investigates Prison Problems. Fox 5 News. 7 May 2003.

“After being horribly burned, Harris was shackled to his bed for weeks on end in an Arizona prison. Attorney Sparks says the treatment of Harris was cruel and that it is hard to overstate the deprivation suffered by Harris.”

Daniels Estate v. District of Columbia (Prison Stabbing Death)
Metro Verdicts Monthly logo Daniels, et al. v. District of Columbia. Metro Verdicts Monthly. Vol. 9, No. 11. 1998.

$850,000 awarded by jury to the surviving children. The District’s pretrial $60,000 settlement offer had been rejected by attorney Sparks. Read More

I Team logo I-Team Investigates: Prison Crisis. ABC Channel 7 News. 1 May 1997.

“Many stabbing cases are the result of shocking negligence . . . Sparks obtained the largest prison death award in D.C. for the family of Joseph Daniels.”

The Washington Post Award in Inmate’s Death. Washington Post. 5 March 1997.

“A DC Superior Court jury has ordered the city to pay $850,000 to the family of a prisoner fatally stabbed at Lorton. The family’s attorney, Douglas R. Sparks, said that only two correctional officers, rather than the three required, were on duty at the time.” Read More

American Inns of Court logo Inn-Dependent, The George Washington American Inn of Court Newsletter. March 1997.

“Doug Sparks recently won an $850,000 verdict against the DC government. The highest verdict to date in a DC prison wrongful death case, the story was featured in the Washington Post and Channel 7 television news. The DC government is now showing a much greater interest in settling cases brought by . . . Sparks!”

9 News logo Inmate Stabbed to Death. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 8 February 1995.

“On the same day Sparks settled a previous stabbing case for Joseph Daniels, Daniels was stabbed to death at Lorton.”

District Paid Millions in Settlement
Legal Times logo Business From Behind Bars. Legal Times. 8 July 2002.

“The District settled quickly . . . because DC government lawyers noted that lawyer Douglas Sparks was prepared to show prospective jurors a photo of the 12-inch knife jutting from his client’s back . . . . Sparks is one of a handful of local lawyers that represent prisoners . . . . His firm was the most prolific in 2001. Read More

Legal Times logo District Paid $12 Million in Settlements. Legal Times. 1 July 2002.

“DC lawyer Douglas Sparks, who has represented inmates in thousands of personal injury cases over the past 15 years, says stabbing cases became an easy win because the District did nothing to keep inmates from injuring one another. ” Read More

Jail Crisis
The Washington Post Looking to Make Changes Behind Bars. Washington Post. 2 February 2006.

“Director Brown is one of the rare kind of corrections professionals who is not threatened by listening to the views of other people and giving them fair consideration. The biggest thing this guy brings is hope, says lawyer Douglas R. Sparks.” Read More

The Washington Post On the Lookout for the New Jails Chief. Washington Post. 29 December 2005

“Douglas R. Sparks, an attorney who has represented many prisoners, said he would be ‘extraordinarily alarmed’ if Brown turned down the District job.” Read More

Current logo Inmate Violence Ends In Death. Buffalo Current. November 2005.

“Douglas Sparks, an attorney in Washington, D.C. said: ‘Detainees are getting murdered in D.C. . . .'''  Read More

The Washington Post D.C. Jail Conditions Unchanged Despite Law. Washington Post. 24 April 2005.

“. . . Douglas R. Sparks, an attorney for the family of one of the murdered inmates, said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the District if it continues to fail to operate the jail in compliance with the statute.” Read More

ABC 7 logo New Security Cameras in DC Jail. ABC-7 News - WJLA. 19 February 2005.

“Security cameras are a good start, but they help deter violence only if a guard is watching the monitor,” said Sparks.

News Channel 8 logo Can the New Security Cameras Save Lives? News Channel 8 - WJLA. 18 February 2005.

“Jail officials say cameras make the place safer, although critics such as Sparks say it still doesn’t solve the problem of understaffing . . . in a jail that holds on average 700 more inmates than it held just five years ago.”

9 News logo Jail in Crisis: Questions Surround DC Jail Management. CBS - W*USA 9 News. 27 February 2004.

“But now there is evidence that correction officials are breaking their own rules, says one DC attorney, Doug Sparks. ‘For at least one and a half hours a day, including today . . . posts on the cell block are abandoned.’ Sparks says . . . he is ‘sick and tired of everyone talking about it, studying it, [and grieving families having to sue] about it. It’s cruel, it’s unconstitutional, it’s inhumane, and it’s a disgrace for this city.’” Read More

The Washington Post logo Weapons Found in City Jail. Washington Post. 29 January 2004.

“Douglas R. Sparks, a Washington lawyer who has represented inmates assaulted and killed in the jail, said [the jail] is extraordinarily dangerous . . .‘These numbers illustrate that the DC Jail is a facility full of armed inmates . . . When inmates fear for their lives, they arm themselves for protection. It is cruel that inmates at the District’s jail, most of whom are awaiting trial, are forced to live in these violent conditions.’” Read More

District of Columbia City Council Testimony of Douglas Sparks. District of Columbia City Council Oversight Hearing on the District of Columbia’s Department of Corrections. Committee on the Judiciary. DC Cable Channel. 1 March 2004.

“What do we know today that the public did not know last year? In every major [jail] stabbing and shooting receiving publicity since December 2002, no correctional officer saw or heard it. And each of these incidents occurred when a prison guard had abandoned his or her post in the housing unit, after superiors sent no relief guard to replace them.” Read More

District of Columbia City Council District of Columbia City Council’s Report On The Inmate Jail Improvement Act of 2003. District of Columbia City Council. Committee on the Judiciary. 22 May 2003.

“To fail to pass legislation in this arena would constitute a failure to recognize and act on what is potentially a dangerous situation for inmates, staff, and residents of the District of Columbia. In the words of one attorney [Douglas Sparks] who testified at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing, “I support wholeheartedly what you are doing. It will be a tremendous injustice if [this bill is not passed].” Read More

District of Columbia City Council Testimony of Douglas Sparks, Attorney for Family of Givon Pendleton. District of Columbia City Council Hearing on the District of Columbia’s Inmate Jail Cap Amendment Act of 2003. Committee on the Judiciary. DC Cable Channel. 18 March 2003.

Live testimony by attorney Sparks describing litany of grossly deficient security measures at DC Jail, and supporting legislation to cap inmate population. Testimony broadcast on DC Cable.