Last February, there were numerous media reports about how the 1,700 prisoners who were being housed in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) were being forced to live in freezing conditions – and were not being provided with any warm meals.
Throughout the time that the facility did not have any heat and only emergency lighting, prisoners were kept on full lock-down: 24/7 in their cells.
All visitations were canceled – even the ones with attorneys.
At the time, prison officials explained that the problem was related to an electrical fire that had occurred at the facility on Sunday, January 27th.
Electricity was finally restored on Sunday, February 3rd – and the heat came back on shortly after that.
During the week when prisoners had neither, MDC was even more of a living hell than it usually is for the men and women who are incarcerated at the maximum-security prison. Outdoor temperatures during that time period plummeted to 2 degrees and nearly 20 degrees below in terms of the windchill factor.
But unexpected events like the January 27th fire happen – and you can’t hold prison officials accountable for things like that.
Or can you?
New OIG Report Reveals the Truth
A newly released report from the BOP’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reveals that many of the explanations and statements that were issued by MDC officials last February were intentionally erroneous.
To begin with, the power outage and the loss of heat were unrelated events.
According to the report, six days before the January 27th electrical fire, “multiple air handler heating coils in the West building [which is where all the prisoners are housed] burst due to cold weather”.
Repairing and replacing the burst coils was not a big deal – and the work was completed over the course of a couple of days. And while the inside temperatures dipped a little during that time period, prisoners were not freezing – and they were still getting warm meals served every day.
But according to the OIG report, when they were making the repairs, “MDC Brooklyn facilities staff either did not properly reset certain controls or accidentally turned off the air handler entirely, causing unit temperatures to remain low at times during the outage”.
If it was properly translated to normal, everyday English that blandly worded governmental bureaucratese would read as follows: “Some of MDC’s dumb-ass maintenance staff either didn’t properly reset the controls for the heating system – or they shut off the entire system – which is why there was no heat in the building before or after the electrical fire”.
The bottom line is that the electrical fire on January 27th had absolutely nothing to do with the loss of heat either before the fire or after the fire.
Although the initial loss of heat was caused by a minor mechanical breakdown, the sustained loss of heat was entirely caused by human error.
But Wait There’s More
The OIG report also notes that the lowest recorded temperature inside the facility was 64 degrees – which is below the BOP’s winter target of 68 degrees but certainly not dangerous or even debilitating.
But then comes the big reveal…
“We cannot, however, state with confidence how many inmate housing areas experienced temperatures at or below the BOP target temperature during the week of the power outage, or for how long, due to the absence of reliable temperature measuring methods at MDC Brooklyn”.
The report goes on to note that MDC has no automatic temperature monitoring system – which means that the authors of the report had to rely entirely on the extremely incomplete records that MDC’s staff made with their hand-held thermometers.
No temperatures whatsoever were recorded during the first three days of the heating crisis.
And when MDC staff finally did start recording temperatures, they didn’t bother to do so in every housing unit.
Nor did they bother to note what time of day it was when they made the recordings.
And last, but certainly not least, the OIG report notes that even the temperatures that were recorded are totally unreliable.
That’s because the MDC staff didn’t use a thermometer that would measure the temperature of the ambient air.
Instead, they used “…an infrared laser thermometer that measures surface temperature. If, for example, facilities staff pointed the laser thermometer at a vent blowing hot air, the recording would reflect the surface temperature of the vent, which would likely be higher than the ambient air temperature”.
Even the OIG Inspectors Didn’t Conduct a Proper Investigation
Every federal agency has an OIG.
These OIGs are supposed to operate independently of the agency – and to undertake investigations of alleged improper conduct within the agency that are thorough, objective and complete.
In the case of the MDC freeze-out, the OIG’s inspection team spent several months at MDC trying to unravel exactly what happened – and why it happened.
They spoke to the MDC warden and his administrative staff.
They spoke to the MDC maintenance staff who, as it turns out, were the ones that caused much of the problem.
And during those eight months, they also spoke to 11 prisoners,
11 prisoners out of the 1,700 who suffered through the inhumane conditions that existed throughout MDC.
Guess the OIG inspectors didn’t want to hear very much from those who suffered the most.
Lots of Omissions in the OIG Report
In addition to being written in bureaucratese – and to not gathering enough information from the 1,700 prisoners who endured the lack of electricity, heat and hot meals – the OIG report also fails to include many of the most egregious acts of the MDC administration throughout the crisis.
For example, no mention is made of the fact, that then-MDC Warden Herman Quay initially blamed Con Edison for the power outage – and that he said the heating problem was the result of the power outage.
Nor did it include any mention of the medical neglect that occurred before, during and after the crisis.
When Judge Analisa Torres toured the facility on February 5th, she met with a prisoner suffering from severe colitis who was still wearing the same bloody underwear he’d been wearing for the past week.
Another prisoner with untreated glaucoma and a gunshot wound showed the judge his pus-soaked bandages that hadn’t been changed for more than 3 weeks.
The 13th Amendment Did Not End Slavery
School children are routinely taught that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution eliminated slavery in the United States.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite true.
The 13th Amendment actually contains what is termed an “exception clause” that allows our government to treat prisoners as slaves.
The exact wording of the 13th Amendment is as follows:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The reason why prisons like MDC exist – and why prisoners in the U.S. have virtually no rights – is because per our Constitution, prisoners are slaves.
It’s why they live in places like MDC.
It’s why they’re fed food that comes in boxes marked “Unfit For Human Consumption”.
It’s why they receive virtually no medical or dental treatment while they are incarcerated.
It’s why they’re paid, on average, about $.50/hour for the work they perform while they are incarcerated.
It’s why – with the exception of Maine and Vermont – they’re not allowed to vote (Many states do not reinstate voting rights for prisoners even after they finish serving their sentence).
It’s why they receive little, if any, education while they’re incarcerated.
And it’s why so many of them emerge from prison as broken people who will likely end up back inside within three years of their release.
The Final Irony
As we get ready to head into another winter, the prisoners at MDC – including Keith Alan Raniere – can hope that things go better because Herman Quay is no longer the warden there.
That’s because the BOP gave him a bonus and promoted him after last February’s fiasco.
[…] OIG Report Confirms That Raniere Is Living in a Hellhole […]
I have always been shocked by how many people believe jail and prison are the same thing.
As evidenced by the comment section, 1/2 of all Americans have no idea regarding the difference….
NEWSFLASH! If you don’t like living conditions in a prison, then live within the rules of society and take responsibility for your actions.
It’s not a prison, it’s a detention facility including for people just awaiting hearings and trials – those who may be innocent.
Any one of us, our family or friends could end up in a place like that given just a bad turn of luck, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time, having the wrong name or happening to look too much like the wrong person – including due to something like overzealous law enforcement officers and prosecutors. And if you follow this site, there’s the case of John Tighe, who many believe to be innocent and to have been framed by NXIVM with the help of corrupt officials.
Wrong name, get thrown into a detention facility? I’ve worked in probation & parole for over 25 years, and that is extremely rare. Be realistic, granny or Uncle Fred isn’t going to get locked up just by going to the local store to buy milk. Alot of these so-called cases you refer to stem from being in places they shouldn’t have been in the first place. Invoking the “it could happen to any one of our family members” is a bit dramatic.
I will say that in the cases of wrongful prosecution need investigated, so I’ll give you that.
Criminal justice reform? Not a bad idea. But I never supervised a choir boy/girl on state parole. Sorry, but we live among a small minority of people who have little or no empathy for anyone. So before you opt to set ’em all free, be sure you know who you are really dealing with. These can be violent people, but they’re not political pons.
Jarhead your exactly the type of person to keep the evil machine greased. I bet you acted as if you were doing parolees favors and I bet you really cared and you were just doing your job. Hopefully your a moral person at least by now. So can we get a round of applause please for the jarhead that worked in probation & parole for over 25 years?
Alas, I’ve made my share of mistakes, Peaches; I’ll admit that.
But if you want to get involved, most police agencies, as well as probation/parole departments, have Citizens Advisory Boards. Contact an agency near you to see if you can get on their Board. Then you’ll get to see both sides of the story. Be careful what you read in the local news media, as they often are not able to report a news story in its entirety.
I agree that we need criminal justice reform. Is it crazy to sentence a person to 20 years probation? I think so. Judges hand out probation sentences like candy at Halloween. Even when it comes to government, money drives the machine more than we care to admit.
Why are we complaining about conditions at MDC? Don’t we want the worst for Keith?
Jail is slightly different than prison.
It’s where mostly people awaiting trial go.
Not everyone can make bail.
Innocent until proven guilty?
And no I am not a liberal I am a Republican.
Once found guilty and sent to prison is when I loose sympathy….
Convicts are mostly lowlifes, thugs and scumbags.
It’s not worth our tax dollars to give them upgraded heating.
Nothing wrong with 50 degree nights. They have blankets. They have it okay.
Nothing wrong with their food either. If it wasn’t fit for human consumption then many of them would DIE of FOOD POISONING each month, Mr. Claviger.
But they don’t die. Cuz it’s fit for human consumption.
You’re just moaning about the fact that it’s not caviar and filet mignon. Big deal.
It’s baloney sandwiches, mystery meat and shit on a shingle.
That’ll do just fine IMO.
Too many bleeding hearts here.
We need to bring back chain gangs and hard labor. 🙂
I agree that the conditions at MDC suck, especially during that time period. But these aren’t choir boys incarcerated in there. It’s a maximum security facility for a reason. I’m not losing any sleep about this. Just sayin.
I remember this incident. It’s an old building, the heat went out, it took a few days to restore. Huge scandal? Not really.
“MDC has no automatic temperature monitoring system”
The building where I work has no automatic temperature monitoring system. The various offices have thermostats that display the temperature. None of these are calibrated and they are mostly different makes and models, depending on when suites were renovated or updated. This is typical of older buildings. Like many buildings, some offices will be too hot, some too cold. Again, not unusual.
“…an infrared laser thermometer that measures surface temperature.” These are very accurate. I use one. Most A/C repairmen use them, because they are accurate. Because they are instant-reading, they encourage taking multiple spot readings which is an easy way for even an untrained person to get a handle on the real temperature in a room. As opposed to having a single fixed thermometer– what if it is in a draft or near a heat source?
“If, for example, facilities staff pointed the laser thermometer at a vent blowing hot air” well, duh. And if the heat wasn’t working, where would there be a working hot air vent? The objection makes no sense.
“the lowest recorded temperature inside the facility was 64 degrees” So, not gulag conditions then. Not even much of a scandal. More like an inconvenience.
As you know the United States a first world nation, has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world in both terms of total number of people incarcerated and the highest per capita rate of incarceration…..
Oddly enough the U.S. federal government houses people like a third world country.
MDC and MCC are jails and there are many poor people who are awaiting trial but can not afford bail.
No one should be tortured awaiting trial.
yes, prison must be a hellhole. And, it should be.
It’s jail. It’s not prison exactly.
true. yes. but it’s pretty close to the whole prison experience all the same.
Thanks for this great reporting about what’s really going on – quite possibly the real underlying scandal worth paying attention to, and being outraged over.
Perhaps the worst of it is that the facility is used for pre-trial detention, so some of those there are innocent, and will be found to be so and released – after already having been subjected to a sort of horrendous punishment. Plus, we now know that significant numbers of even those who were convicted – or, more commonly, plead guilty – are in fact innocent. Think John Tighe – would we wish this on him?
While we have yet to see any reports of the investigation into Epstein’s death, my daily scan for news articles revealed that apparently conditions at the MCC where he was held have also deteriorated to depths that we wouldn’t expect to find in an advanced and properly run nation:
Jail where Jeffrey Epstein died has egregious history of security breaches
“Bombshell Justice Department documents reveal that guards at the federal prison in Manhattan where child sex fiend Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself are notorious for not watching high-risk, high-profile inmates — and even helped one smuggle in contraband.
Officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center recently let an accused CIA leaker obtain electronic devices to continue to steal and transmit classified information, according to the documents. They let a fraudster with ties to the Clintons get his hands on a smartphone that he used to falsify evidence. They even let an Islamic terrorist have access to al Qaeda propaganda — including bomb-making instructions — that he distributed to fellow inmates.
The security breaches at the MCC are so egregious that prison inspectors wonder why Epstein was ever sent there in the first place.
“MCC has had major screw-ups in the past,” said Patrick Dunleavy, a former deputy inspector general for the New York state Department of Corrections. “It’s strange that they put Epstein there.””
Prisons aren’t supposed to be places where prisoners feel comfortable. Not even a little. You get what you pay for. The inmates pay nothing, the taxpayer everything. That is why everything should cost as little as possible. Society, politics and citizens want this system. If it becomes too expensive, the whole thing would have to be reconsidered. And that is what very few people want.
If the Dems weren’t so focused on falsely impeaching Trump, they may have gotten more public interest in this issue.
It’s even worse, because the inspections are useless: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ07sM5w_Dk&feature=youtu.be
Where’s Clare and Sara’s multi-millions to save their savior’s ass — along with 1699 other mistreated MDC prisoners — from more than a few “enemies” who once dared expose him?
Now’s their chance to demonstrate some altruism and good will to all 1700 MDC inmates — not just the anti-Semite skinheads providing KAR’s prison protection.
Top-notch investigative journalism, Klav.
Is it just me, or does anybody understand the first paragraph of Hutchinson’s tirade?
My buttons are thoroughly pushed by this new information. The sounds of those prisoners banging and clanging and knocking last January chilled me to the bone. Their frantic family members outside made me want to join them in protest. U.S. jails and prisons are used as de facto mental asylums, which cannot offer even the most basic physical healthcare much less the psychiatric care at least 40% of prisoners need. I am a small-government conservative on many issues. On the issue of prisoners’ rights, of their medical care and treatment, on the fact that so many are imprisoned to begin with, I turn into a social justice warrior. The state should not have the power that it has seized from citizens, from ‘free’ people. The asset forfeiture laws are a disgrace, the destruction of the 4th Amendment is a disgrace…and the prison-industrial complex is a cesspit. Keith deserves the time he is going to get. But no one deserves to have untreated medical issues tantamount to torture, or to die from the flu or a bad tooth, just because they are in a jail or prison. That is not part of their sentence, to withhold medical care, to be beaten or raped, to be frozen or boiled or otherwise subjected to 19th-century conditions. I despise what we do to one another, as humans. There is never any accountability for the government, none. Corruption in the justice system is the sign of just how deep the rot is in our larger society. The previous local and state prosecutors in this case alone amply demonstrate how disgusting the legal system can be when it attracts the very worst among us.
Maybe Keith can work on making the world a better place now. There ARE people who devote their careers and lives to really making the world a better place. Then there are the deluded who tell themselves and others that they are changing the world for the better while they either do nothing or actively contribute to the inhumanity and degradation and abuse. Nxivm is in the latter category. Well, Keith, now’s your chance, better get to work, one mind at a time. You have a captive audience, just like before.
Raniere is powerless in prison, especially without his evil women supporters to help him.
Besides complaining on Frank’s website, what are you going to DO about it?
why not come on my radio show and tell me all about how you got snookered on AMWAY and eventually sold crap to your friends and strangers. LOL!
I’m not afraid to come on your radio show. Send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org, or be a coward like niceguy and don’t. I doubt you even have a radio show. LOL
Go carve some Cherubs out of Amway soap bars.
1 out of every 100 Americans are either in Prison, on probation, in youth detention, or otherwise in the hands of the US justice system.
Along with our freedoms comes responsibilities. Many people don’t “get” the second part. As a result, many people go unpunished.
Only 1 out of 100?
We have far more thugs and delinquents than that in society. Methinks we need to up that figure. 🙂
The prisons in America are scandals.
They are nothing more than schools for crime.
Prisoners can get any kind of drug or narcotic they want.
And America has a higher incarceration rate than Russia, China and South Africa.
America’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world.
The ten countries with the highest incarceration rates are:
United States (737)
South Africa (334)
Trump took a step in the right direction, and much more needs to be done.
Mainland China probably has the larger whole number of prisoners because of the Uruguay and Tibetan ethnic populations that are incarcerated in China.
Uruguay is a country in South America. You must have meant the Uighur people.