- Inmates in a Brooklyn federal jail have reportedly endured freezing temperatures for more than a week.
- Onlookers saw inmates flashing lights and banging the windows of the Metropolitan Detention Center after having gone more than a week without electricity, heat, or warm food.
- Some heat was apparently functional, but a protest moved forward Saturday afternoon to demand full restoration of electricity, heat, hot water, and warm meals or relocation for inmates.
- Local and federal lawmakers called for immediate action from the Bureau of Prisons regarding the facility, which houses more than 1,600 inmates.
Inmates in a Brooklyn federal jail have reportedly endured freezing temperatures for more than a week, during which there has been no electricity, heat, or warm food.
Onlookers saw inmates flashing lights and banging the windows of the Metropolitan Detention Center in the borough’s Sunset Park neighbourhood about a week after the heat and power issues became known.
The New York Times reported the conditions Friday, citing six lawyers and paralegals who had spoken to inmates, two union leaders, and a jail employee who remained anonymous.
The facility holds more than 1,600 inmates and has been subject to freezing temperatures brought on by the polar vortex that froze the northeast over the week.
City Councilman Brad Lander tweeted a video in which the inmates’ tapping and knocking can be heard from the parking lot outside of the jail.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) February 1, 2019
The Bureau of Prisons told the Times that the electrical failure was related to difficulties experienced by power provider Con Edison, and the New York City Fire Department said it responded to a small electrical fire in the jail’s control room last weekend.
Lawmakers took to Twitter to condemn the conditions, with many rallying behind the hashtag “#SunsetParkGulag,” which refers to a system of forced labour camps established in Joseph Stalin’s dictatorial reign of the Soviet Union.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said on Twitter the situation was “inhumane and a violation of the detainees’ constitutional rights,” adding that “The Bureau of Prisons needs to fix this immediately.”
City Council member Jumaane Williams tweeted Saturday that he had visited the jail and found the conditions “obscene and unconscionable.”
“The building is still without heat,” Williams wrote. “This is an issue of human rights abuse, and people are paying the price for this massive and inexcusable failure.”
Councilmember Lander tweeted late Friday that there was some heat, but endorsed a Saturday afternoon protest organised in part by Fight Back Bay Ridge that would demand full restoration of electricity, heat, hot water, and warm meals or relocation for inmates.
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