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Lawsuit Alleges ‘Inhumane’ Conditions in Frigid Brooklyn Jail

05 February, 2019, 07:10 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Weeklong power outage at New York federal jail leaves inmates without heat or light in the cold

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Inmates reported little or no heat, little or no hot water, minimal electricity, and near-total lack of access to some medical services, telephones, televisions, computers, laundry or commissary, the Federal Defenders lawsuit said.

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

"Disturbing reports have surfaced that the federal government left more than a thousand prisoners without heat, hot water or electricity during subzero temperatures at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn", Cuomo said in a statement. New York Assemblywoman Joanne Simon reported that, although prison officials had accepted the blankets from the city the night before, they had not distributed them to inmates. People on the ground would clap in response to sound patterns, and they would repeat back in forth, inmates responding percussively to their families down on the street. A hearing for the lawsuit was quickly held at 11 a.m., and a judge ordered the jail to take one sick inmate to the hospital, Reuters says.

"The electrical power at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility at MDC Brooklyn was restored at approximately 6:30 pm this evening". "The heating problems seem to be independent". Demonstrators rallied throughout the weekend to protest the conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center, which is run by the Bureau of Prisons.

Telephone calls to the jail went unanswered on Saturday, but it said in a statement that power had been affected in one building and that fix work should be completed on Monday.

Numerous 1,600 incarcerated at the center spent the weekend sitting in dark, cold cells due to the partial power outage, CNN reported.

Lawyers, who were not allowed to visit their clients for a week, were also allowed into the jail Sunday.

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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. She said inmates have hot water in their sinks and in showers.

"These units had a panicky feeling", von Dornum wrote.

Medical staff have checked inmates at the facility and "continue to check each inmate cell-by-cell periodically and continue to dispense required medications and address the medical needs of the inmate population", according to an updated statement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Department of Justice said Sunday it would work with the Bureau of Prisons to probe what happened there. By the time the public was made aware, her own brother had been complaining to her of his freezing cell for weeks, she said.

However, several lawmakers who toured the jail Saturday said conditions remained unacceptable and accused jail officials of not understanding the urgency of the situation.

The protesters have included family members who said they haven't been able to visit inmates in days, as well as activists and elected officials.

"We're going to get through this immediate crisis at some point", Patton said.

Lighting was restored at the end of the day Sunday, NBC New York reports, but that was far from the end of the ordeal.



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