Defense Attorneys Banned from D.C. Jail After Drug Residue Found on Paperwork

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two defense attorneys have been prohibited from meeting with clients at the D.C. jail after traces of illegal drugs were discovered on paperwork they brought into the facility, according to sources within the city’s Department of Corrections. The attorneys, Kevin McCants and Donna Beasley, have been notified that they can only communicate with their clients through video meetings or by having their colleagues conduct face-to-face visits.

McCants, a seasoned lawyer practicing in the District since 2005, revealed in an interview that he was informed by corrections officials last month about the ban pending an investigation. He acknowledged that he had been carrying paperwork with a stain on it but emphasized that it was dry. The substance on the paperwork was later identified as synthetic marijuana. McCants admitted that the paperwork was given to him by a relative of one of his clients, an action he regrets and attributes to being distracted by the recent death of a close friend.

Beasley, the other banned defense attorney, declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding her prohibition from the jail. However, she confirmed that she could still communicate with her incarcerated clients through video calls and that she had investigators who could meet with inmates in her absence.

The two attorneys have been barred from the jail as a precautionary measure to prevent the entry of tainted paperwork that inmates could use as a substitute for drugs. Inmates might consume the paper by smoking or ingesting it orally to achieve intoxication. Authorities stress the need for thorough examination and testing of all materials entering the jail to prevent such occurrences.

The D.C. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association has reminded its members of the importance of adhering to the protocol of only bringing in materials that originate from themselves, police officers, or prosecutors. Betty Ballester, a former head of the association, confirmed that a memo was circulated to members outlining the permissible items that can be brought in for clients.

The Department of Corrections director, Thomas Faust, commended the work of his team in detecting and intercepting contraband, stating that they employ various strategies to ensure contraband is promptly seized. Despite this, the jail has faced challenges in preventing prisoners from accessing drugs, with six inmates having died from overdoses between 2021 and September. Various incidents of drug smuggling into the facility have also occurred, resulting in charges against correctional officers and inmates.

The banning of the two defense attorneys from the D.C. jail emphasizes the ongoing battle to keep drugs out of correctional facilities. The city’s medical examiner’s office has highlighted the urgency of evaluating and addressing this issue to protect incarcerated individuals from harm.