Over the weekend, activists and elected officials joined family members of inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to protest the unacceptable and inhumane conditions at the facility. A power outage due to an electrical fire a week prior had left the inmates without heat and electricity while New York City experienced subzero temperatures. Late Sunday evening the power was eventually restored after an entire week of suffering.
Inmates were put on lockdown due to safety reasons and did not receive proper medical care. According to elected officials who were granted access to the facility, some inmates had not received their medication since the computer system also was down due to the power outage, and prison personnel was therefore unable to order their medication. Inmates who suffer from sleep apnea could not use their CPAP machine. One inmate had not seen his psychiatrist while another suffered from an untreated eye infection.
The situation at the prison is not anything new to the inmates who spoke to State Attorney Letitia James and Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clark who were able to enter the facility together with NY Assemblymembers Robert Carroll and Jo Anne Simon on Sunday. Apparently, the inmates regularly experience problems with heat and hot water due to underlying structural issues. Congresswoman Yvette Clark questioned why there was not an emergency plan in place, to begin with. City Council member and candidate for NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams during a press conference on Saturday, “Those people in there do not care, that is what I got out of this. The primary problem is the warden and the people who are there have no sense of emergency. Since this generator was on fire nobody had a plan to make this system run. Nobody cared about those people who are in there, that is what we came out with.”
Prison officials did not communicate with the public nor family members who also had not been able to talk or email their loved ones. Only on Sunday, lawyers were finally allowed to communicate with their clients.