An NYC federal jail doesn’t have heat or electricity, prompting protests

Minnie Murray
February 7, 2019

"With the heat and hot water operational, and the restoration of electrical power, the facility can now begin to return to regular operations", he said.

He said the government has the responsibility to serve all its citizens while the Bureau of Prisons has to live up to that responsibility.

"They're not allowing attorneys to come in, they're not allowing anybody to come in", she said.

"The heat is sporadic and it's uneven", Nydia Velázquez told the station.

"Psychologically, the lack of lighting just felt devastating", Deirdre von Dornum, a lawyer with the Federal Defenders for the Eastern District of NY, told The Wall Street Journal.

A fire reportedly broke out in the switchgear room over the weekend.

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.

"Heat is a minimum standard, that is a minimum requirement for anyone that is in a correctional facility", one demonstrator said. The New York Post reports a new electrical panel was being installed, but there is no confirmation when it would be completed.

The prison confirmed the news in a statement late Sunday night, with ny mayor Bill de Blasio tweeting that a federal official had also shared the news with him.


"New York City is sending trucks with hundreds of blankets and hand warmers to the (MDC) NOW and generators are being readied for transport", de Blasio tweeted.

"It's disgraceful and it breaks your heart when you talk to people who are frantic and scared and entirely cut off from the outside world", Patton told NBC News on Sunday.

New York Attorney General Letitia "Tish" James entered the prison on Sunday afternoon to assess the situation, footage showed.

"Today's 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", NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman said. "My office is in touch with legal service providers and inmates' attorneys, and closely monitoring this deeply disturbing situation".

Inmates locked up in federal jail in Brooklyn banged their windows and flashed lights at street-level onlookers Friday in an apparent plea for relief from the freezing temperatures advocates say they're enduring.

June Bencebi, a case manager at the jail from the American Federation of Government Employees union, added: "They just stay huddled up in the bed". This comes on the heels of an uproar over inmates who were seen shoveling snow in Chicago on January 28 as record cold weather approached-fueling the debate of modern slavery in the nation's prison system.

Pedreira previously said federal prison officers are working while wearing hats, coats and scarves. Visitors and contractors were escorted out of the jail as a precaution after the threat was called into the facility around 10:25 a.m.

"They don't want us to see how they look as far as they could be anorexic, they could have bags under their eyes from not being able to sleep at night because it's risky being the dark", Shalicia Anderson, an inmate's wife, told CBS New York.

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.

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