By: Matthew McKenzie
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It is estimated that the over 1,600 inhabitants of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York – some of whom have not even faced trial – have been without reliable electricity, heat and hot water from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3 despite reports that most of the necessary functions were back up and running. As all of those who have lived in the northeast know, the winters in this part of the country are absolutely frigid and particularly unforgiving to any and all caught in it. The likely reason for failure of the amenities and facilities that are necessary for survival was a fire occurring at the prison on the January 27.
This information about the supposed terrible conditions that the prisoners were being subjected to was leaked out by family members and friends of the imprisoned as well as civil rights organizations around the area. On Friday, February 1, protests began outside of the detention center, calling for politicians as well as officials, such as the prisons warden ,Herman Quay, to intercede and involve themselves in fixing the situation that the prisoners were facing. For the prisoners that were able to see the protestors, they began banging on the bars in their windows adding themselves to the spectacle of the protest. After what was the third day of protesting the conditions of the prison, the power was finally restored to the MDC. The federal bureau representative when asked stated,
“[A] work ticket has been submitted by the electrical contractor to schedule a work crew to restore power to the new temporary service switch.”
An investigation has been announced by the United States Department of Justice to have the inspector general look into this incident at the detention center. This is not a new occurrence; multiple complaints have been filed against the facility, citing the prison’s lack of cleanliness and abuse by officers and officials of the prison, most recently over the last 3 years reports against correction officers have been filed for allegedly “raping” female prisoners.
Of course, undeniably with this incident is the acknowledgement that prison conditions are widely known to be horrible. This point so pervasive in fact that it has become a subject popular in American media. Very often movies, television, novels and many other mediums present the audience with main themes or pieces media that presents prisons as terrible awful places that only wicked inhuman beings could be put in. Reality has a very different response to this notion. Real people are inside of prisons, whether they are guilty or not they likely went through a justice system that held them to a standard. The time is now for the system, all parts of it, to be held to standard.