Protesters pushed back at NYC federal jail where power out

The Metropolitan Detention Center is shown on Jan. 8 2017 in the Brooklyn New York. On Feb. 2 2019 it was announced by the federal Bureau of Prisons that the power would be restored to the jail after inmates had to deal without heat or electrici

The Bureau of Prisons has acknowledged that the jail "experienced a partial power outage due to a fire in the switch gear room".

The lawsuit alleges that the Federal Bureau of Prisons violated the constitutional rights of about 1,600 inmates by denying legal visits after a January 27 fire caused the failure. Jamaal Bailey, who toured the facility Sunday and said there was no heat on the fourth floor.

In a statement Sunday, officials said inmates had hot water for showers and in their cells' sinks, and they estimated that power would be fully restored by Monday. The woman, Yvonne Murchison, was crying and upset and tried to get into the facility, where visits have been stopped. No devices were found.

On Sunday, the Department of Justice said it would work with the Bureau of Prisons to prevent future issues.

"On Monday, a lawsuit was filed by the federal public defenders" office on behalf of its clients in the jail.

Lawyers for some of the Brooklyn inmates complained that they have not been able to speak to their clients. One woman was pepper-sprayed after trying to reach her son.

She found the facility to be "very cold", according to the lawsuit, learned some inmates received only cold food for days after the fire, and observed guards in warm clothing while many inmates were in short-sleeve shirts and light cotton trousers. Reports of broken pipes leaking water and freezing beds, sick inmates, some locked up in solitary confinement and mistreated by correction officers. It calls for the appointment of a special master to inspect the lockup.

Inmates also reported smelling noxious fumes and seeing prison officers wearing masks even though none were supplied to inmates, the lawsuit said. "With the heat and hot water operational, and the restoration of electrical power, the facility can now begin to return to regular operations", US Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.

The lack of heat and power at the jail was first reported in The New York Times.

Earlier Sunday, some demonstrators attempted to enter the facility, and guards drove them back with pushes and shoves.

Tensions outside the jail increased Sunday afternoon as protesters approached the prison entrance and were pepper-sprayed by guards. She said the Bureau of Prisons was disregarding inmates' rights.

A hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday in the case of another inmate, Jose Segura-Genao, after his lawyer Ezra Spilke asked a judge in Manhattan federal court for a conference to address "inhumane conditions" at the jail.

According to lawyers from the Federal Defenders of NY, a non profit that defends low-income people, the center has had electrical problems since the beginning of the year.

"This is a standard Trump Administration response talking out of both sides of their mouths and not worrying about the truth and not worrying about people's lives", NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. Some have remained at the site overnight, shivering and indignant, in solidarity with inmates, they said. "They either failed to grasp or they failed to care about the severity of this humanitarian crisis".

Some inmates received only cold food for days after the fire, von Dornum found, according to the lawsuit, and lighting outages left some cells in the dark.

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