The federal government announced Wednesday evening that it will investigate last week’s power and heat outage at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons said they requested that the office of the Inspector General determine if the agencies responded appropriately during the outage, which was caused by a fire in a control room. The Sunset Park facility’s 1,654 male and female inmates were left in pitch-black rooms as they dealt with extreme cold during the ordeal, according to the Federal Defenders, who filed a suit on behalf of the detainees.
“The BOP will also conduct a thorough investigation of the infrastructure at the facility and review the emergency response and contingency planning for this type of incident,” the federal agencies said in a statement.
The joint decision came hours after several New York members of Congress, including Nydia Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, Kirsten Gillibrand and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signed a letter to the inspector general, calling for an investigation into the situation.
Velázquez and Nadler visited the facility over the weekend and joined hundreds of protesters who rallied outside for the detainees’ rights.
“Even before these most recent outrageous events, MDC has been a troubled institution, and I want to see the problems there rooted out, once and for all,” Velázquez said in a statement.