Brooklyn jail facing protests after freezing temperatures made prisoners sick
According to the New York Times, over a thousand prisoners have been stuck in a federal Brooklyn jail with freezing jail cells, limited power, and heat for at least as long as a week, making many of them sick. The Metropolitan Detention Center houses about 1,600 and is located near the waterfront in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Six lawyers and paralegals familiar with the case told the New York Times about the conditions at the jail following conversations with three dozen inmates, two union leaders, and an employee at the jail.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed to the New York Times that the jail was “experiencing a partial power outage” but also explained that “cells have heat and hot water, there is lighting in the common areas and inmates are receiving hot meals.” However, Union leaders and defense lawyers have countered the Bureau’s assessment of the situation. Paralegal Rachel Bass told the New York Times, “In the past hour I have gotten 11 calls… People are frantic. They’re really, really scared. They don’t have extra blankets. They don’t have access to the commissary to buy an extra sweatshirt.”
This discrepancy has led to protests and demonstrations in front of the jail, which led to an attempted storming of the jail. The group of protestors was stopped by correctional officers inside the jail with pepper spray, and the police say that no one was arrested.
Protests, which have been going on since Saturday, almost immediately resumed following the incident. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a Democrat whose district includes this jail, described the situation following a visit on Saturday, telling the New York Times, “The situation is really, really a nightmare… It is like living in a closet without lights.”