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A Furor Grows in Brooklyn Over Jail With Little Heat

Federal Bureau of Prisons in hot water over 'disturbing living conditions'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2019 9:43 AM CST
This 2017 file photo shows the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Hundreds of inmates at the federal jail have spent days in cold, dark cells amid frigid weather, attorneys said Friday, Feb. 1,...   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

(Newser) – The misery of last week's polar vortex continues to drag on, now with outrage in Brooklyn, where some 1,600 inmates at a federal jail have been shivering amid a partial power outage that's resulted in limited heat in week in which temperatures plunged, reports NBC News. The power issues at the Metropolitan Detention Center date back to Jan. 5, but extended into heating issues last week—and inmates aren't happy about it. Video shot outside the jail captures inmates kicking up a ruckus in protest inside, and officials took notice, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand retweeting it and calling conditions "inhumane and a violation of the detainees’ constitutional rights."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons blames a "fire in the switch gear room," and said Saturday night it's "working to restore power as expeditiously as possible." It earlier said it was working with Con Edison to restore power, though the utility said it was not having issues. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the bureau, tweeting on Saturday that it had refused the city's help "even as their incompetence is on full display for the world," and later that "the supplies are coming — whether they like it or not." A US district court judge has ordered the prisons bureau to appear in court on Tuesday as part of a hearing that inmates were being kept in "disturbing living conditions." (The MDC has had some high-profile inmates.)

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