Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Power restored to New York prison; Cuomo calls for investigation

Power restored to New York prison; Cuomo calls for investigation

Even though the power is back, many people say they're not leaving until they know that the heat is running throughout the building. Prisoners have resorted to banging on their cell windows, flashing lights and screaming "We're freezing!" and "No hot food, no hot water!" in order to alert the outside world of their situation. "In America, everyone has rights", said Velazquez, whose district includes the center in Sunset Park. The agency insisted that inmates had hot water for showers and sinks, and were getting medications as needed.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez of NY (D) said she visited the center on Saturday and there "appeared" to be some heat restored, but that the facility was still "dark and cold".

Rhonda Barnwell, who works in the prison's medical centre, said parts of the jail were working on a generator.

The bureau said air temperatures in the units "were within acceptable ranges" on Saturday.

"I'd trade places with him any day, that's my child", she said. "The heat is sporadic and it's uneven", she said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Justice Department to "immediately investigate the circumstances" at the center.

Lawyers meeting with clients reported coughing fits from everyone in the meeting room.

The detention center houses more than 1,600 inmates, largely accused of low-level offenses, ahead of their trials.

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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.

"It is unacceptable, illegal, and inhumane to detain people without basic amenities, access to counsel, or medical care", New York Attorney General Letitia A. James said in a statement.

I am outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center where prisoners are without heat. She said the Bureau of Prisons was disregarding inmates' rights. "My office is in touch with legal service providers and inmates' attorneys, and closely monitoring this deeply disturbing situation".

"My understanding is they're fully locked down in their dark cells", said Dierdre von Dornum, the lead federal defender in Brooklyn.

"I need to find out what's going on with my clients", lawyer Ezra Spilke said Friday. "They've basically been incommunicado from their attorneys since the 27th, which is when the electrical fire happened".

"They just stay huddled up in the bed", said June Bencebi, a case manager at the jail and the treasurer of the local chapter of the union. The account was echoed by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who said he'd heard from inmates that the warden routinely turned off heat as a punishment. "There's only heat in the afternoons since we've been complaining today". 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. "There is light in the hallways but it's not enough", she added. Cuomo's intervention ends up being a reminder of how many complaints people have about the terrible conditions of New York's own prisons, particularly Riker's Island, which activists have been trying to get shut down.

The "confrontation between the Bureau of Prisons and family members of people jailed at MDC highlights the desperate need to address the unsafe, inhumane and unlawful conditions inside the facility", executive director Donna Lieberman said in a statement.

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