Power Outage At Brooklyn Federal Prison Leaves Offenders Freezing In Cells And Family Members Outraged
Some cells reportedly had temperatures as low as 49 degrees.
February 03, 2019 at 4:41 pm
Protests broke out in Brooklyn, New York, demanding heat and power be restored to the borough's Metropolitan Detention Center.
CNN reports a number of the offenders housed in the prison were left without heat and hot water Saturday due to a partial power outage. According to various reports, the issue may not be fixed until Monday.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) visited the facility, reporting that a cell had a temperature as low as 49 degrees. "The heat is sporadic and it's uneven," Velázquez told WPIX.
A fire reportedly broke out in the switchgear room over the weekend. The New York Post reports a new electrical panel was being installed, but there is no confirmation when it would be completed. Monday seems to be the likely deadline.
Director of Federal Defenders of New York David Patton told media the issue began as early as Thursday. Pitch-dark cells were reportedly locked down since Thursday.
"Lighting is down," said Patton. "No light in the cells. All locked down since Thursday night. That's going on for at least 36 hours. When the sun goes down it's pitch dark. Inmates who have medical conditions can't read the instructions on the medications."
Since the news broke of the outage, roughly 100 demonstrators protested in front of the center demanding something be done to ensure the safety of their loved ones. Organizer Shahana Hanif captured video of some of the incarcerated people banging in their cells as protesters stood outside.
I am outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center where prisoners are without heat. The banging noise is them protesting for all of us to hear. They are without heat for days. This is in BROOKLYN. pic.twitter.com/h3UiVcR6VF
— Shahana Hanif (@HShahana) February 1, 2019
Family members of some of the offenders were among the demonstrators. Beverly Disano told the Post she hoped her son would have access to the television in time for the Super Bowl. Another woman, Olga Rodriguez, hoped her loved one could have some time outside of his cell.
“Since the government shutdown, they’ve been cooped up in their cells," she said. "They’ve been on lockdown for half the day and we hoped that after it [the shutdown] ended it would get better but it's not! It actually got worse!"
Many gathered outside of the federal jail in Brooklyn have family members inside. pic.twitter.com/NEiSGgdCtN
— Rosa Goldensohn (@RosaGoldensohn) February 2, 2019
New York Attorney General Letitia A. James took the detention center to task for its inhumane conditions.
"It is unacceptable, illegal and inhumane to detain people without basic amenities, access to counsel or medical care," James said in a statement. "The reported conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Center are appalling. Prisoners and detainees have rights and those rights must be enforced. My office is in touch with legal service providers and inmates' attorneys, and closely monitoring this deeply disturbing situation."
Recently, incarcerated people in Chicago were reporting heating issues in cells last week when a photo showing them shoveling snow went viral.
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