New York Attorney General Enters Brooklyn Prison Lacking Heat For Days

Arturo Kim
Февраля 5, 2019

Some demonstrators protesting the lack of heat and electricity at a federal detention center in New York City attempted to get into the facility on Sunday, and witnesses said guards pushed them back and sprayed them with an unknown stinging substance. The power problems have also meant inmates can not easily call family or lawyers nor get any needed medication refilled, lawyers said.

The lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court by the Federal Defenders of NY cited numerous disruptions caused by the outage that resulted from a January 27 fire at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Prisoners call out to protesters and family members gathers outside the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison where prisoners have been without heat, hot water, electricity and proper sanitation due to an electrical failure since earlier in the week, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in the Brooklyn borough of NY.

In notes taken during a tour of the jail and shared with NBC News, Deirdre von Dornum, the attorney-in-charge of the Federal Defenders for the Eastern District of NY, described water leaking into inmates' beds from cracks in the ceiling, pitch black cells, and tepid water in the showers.

"There was consistent and constant percussion trying to make sure that everybody knew they were in there", Hechinger says.

Inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn have been living without power for the past week.

Rhonda Barnwell, who works in the jail's medical station, told the News the facility had no electricity and was on a generator. "Those individuals with medical conditions, unfortunately, their medical conditions are not being addressed", she said.

Protesters gathered outside the building on Saturday.

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Gabriel Pedreira, an organizer for the local branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, said they are concerned for the health and safety of the employees, who are being "forced to work in freezing temperatures". The inmates have resorted to yelling, screaming and banging on the narrow windows of their cells out of sheer agony in hopes of getting media attention.

Pedreira previously said federal prison officers are working while wearing hats, coats and scarves. Temperatures have been dropping into the teens at night. The low Monday morning will be in the upper 30s.

The "confrontation between the Bureau of Prisons and family members of people jailed at MDC highlights the desperate need to address the risky, inhumane and unlawful conditions inside the facility", executive director Donna Lieberman said in a statement.

A spokesperson for MDC's warden, identified only as V. Logan, denied allegations from prisoners that they did not have access to hot water, adequate heat and hot meals.

"There was a powerful connection between people on the outside and people on the inside", he says.

Attorney General Letitia James called the circumstances "unacceptable, illegal, and inhumane" in a statement sent to CBS2. The dystopian scene unfolded Friday evening inside and outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park as prisoners on each floor of the 14-story lockup frantically gestured to shocked passersby in a desperate cry for help.

The NYCLU is calling on the Bureau of Prisons to allow family and legal visits immediately. That left the facility operating on emergency power.

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