A prison power outage is always a big deal these days where so much security-related tech relies on electricity. But when you couple the loss of heat and hot water with unseasonably cold winter temperatures, it's a recipe for a humanitarian crisis.
According to the plaintiffs bringing the action, the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center failed to take appropriate steps to take care of the detainees and inmates in their custody after the power outage and heating failure. The complaint alleges that many went without hot food, hot showers, clean laundry, and, most importantly, heat. Additionally, the facility refused to allow both attorney and social visits during that time, which a federal judge has already ruled violated the Sixth Amendment and issued an temporary injunction requiring attorney visits be commenced immediately.
A Cold Day in Jail
Shockingly, the temperatures inside the prison reportedly dropped below 50 degrees and the inmates and detainees were in standard prison issue clothing, mostly huddling in bed for warmth. And while the administration has been denying the allegations, the objective observers who have seen firsthand for themselves and spoken to the inmates, have disagreed.
Thankfully, the problems with the heat and hot water and electricity have been resolved. But the underlying issue behind how and why it happened has left many asking the same questions as the plaintiffs. How can a prison allow the heat to be broken for over a week in the dead of winter during a cold-snap? Then have the audacity to deny pretrial detainees the right to meet with their attorneys.
While inmates may not deserve luxury accommodations, the Eighth Amendment dictates reasonable living conditions, and dangerously low temperatures just aren't reasonable.