DOJ inspector general to investigate Brooklyn detention center power outage

DOJ inspector general to investigate Brooklyn detention center power outage
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The Justice Department Inspector General and the Bureau of Prisons confirmed that they will investigate a recent days-long power outage at a federal detention center.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said on Twitter that the agencies responded to a request for an investigation from him, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and more than 20 other Democrats.

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Nadler shared a statement from the Justice Department saying that the agency has instructed its inspector general to conduct an investigation, and saying the prison bureau will also investigate.

The day after Nadler shared the statement from the Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General posted a notice on their website that they are conducting an inspection and review of the electrical and heating issues at the facility.

“The OIG will assess how those issues occurred, whether [Bureau of Prisons] has in place adequate contingency plans for such an incident, and how they affected prisoners’ conditions of confinement and access to counsel,” the notice reads.

In the statement Nadler shared Wednesday evening, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said it would “conduct a thorough investigation of the infrastructure at the facility." The Inspector General's office had not yet confirmed at the time that it was looking into the matter.

“The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Prisons are committed to the safe and humane living and working conditions of all inmates and employees,” the statement reads.

The Justice Department said the investigation would determine whether the Bureau of Prisons "responded appropriately" to the incident.

 

Nadler and Velázquez joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in demanding an investigation after more than 1,600 inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., went without heat and lighting for days during a week of frigid temperatures.

Power was restored on Sunday, shortly after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and NYC Emergency Management delivered generators, blankets and hand warmers to the center.

The Bureau of Prisons and the Metropolitan Detention Center’s warden have also been hit with a lawsuit from a nonprofit group over the power outage, alleging a “humanitarian crisis” at the jail.

Updated at 3:58 p.m.