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April 25, 2019

Department of Justice IG to open review of Brooklyn federal jail that left inmates without heat, electricity

February 7, 2019
Protesters at the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center at 90 29th Street in Brooklyn on Sunday February 3, 2019. 1251. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News) (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News; AP)

The Department of Justice has asked its watchdog arm to open a probe into the Bureau of Prisons handling of a heat and electricity outage at a Brooklyn jail.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the DOJ said its Inspector General has been asked to “undertake a review” of the treatment of inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

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The IG will try to determine if BOP “responded appropriately to the heat and electricity failures at MDC Brooklyn and to asses whether BOP has in place adequate contingency plans for such and incident,” the DOJ statement added.

The lack of hot water, heat and electricity for parts of last week at the MDC in Sunset Park sparked massive protests outside the facility and prompted multiple lawmakers and even a Manhattan judge to demand access to check out the conditions.

Just before the DOJ announced its request to the IG, U.S. Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) had also made a similar demand.

In a letter sent to the DOJ and BOP, the lawmakers asked for an “examination” of the MDC and if the Bureau of Prisons had followed its own emergency protocols during the outage.

The Bureau of Prisons did not respond to a request for comment.

Over the weekend, as a brutal cold gripped the city, inmates on each floor of the freezing 14-story lockup frantically gestured to shocked passersby in a desperate cry for help.

Many tried to block vents in their cells with clothing and blankets to keep the frigid air out, he said.

An electrical fire nearly two weeks ago had knocked out some of the power to the building, leaving inmates at the mercy of the cold without hot water and in many cases hot food, as well as heat.

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