Read a PDF of our statement here.

News reports indicate that over a thousand inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, have been living without adequate heat, hot water, and electricity in their cells. It also appears that the power outages have prevented inmates from communicating with relatives and placing requests for prescription refills. Samuel Spital, Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc (LDF), provided the following statement:

“As temperatures dropped dramatically this week, so too did living conditions for over a thousand inmates who were forced to weather the cold without heat, hot water, sufficient light, or even additional blankets. The people detained at this federal facility have been kept on lockdown for 23 hours a day, with their pleas for help now echoing into New York City’s streets. This situation is not just inhumane, but likely unconstitutional. The lack of adequate clothing and shelter run afoul of the Eighth Amendment’s protections and put inmates’ lives in jeopardy. So far it seems little has been done to improve the situation, with requests for relocation or backup heating going unheeded.

“We demand Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker launch an investigation into the unlivable conditions at the facility in Brooklyn, New York, and urge the DOJ to immediately take action to provide safe shelter for all inmates at Metropolitan Detention Center. We cannot let their cries go unanswered.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.