One our most admired commenters, Paul, in writing about Keith Alan Raniere, added that even he, despite his long list of crimes, does not deserve to be punished at Rikers Prison.
Paul wrote that Rikers:
This might be Raniere’s retirement home:
‘It’s the abuse and violence at Rikers that have received the most attention. But there’s another dimension to the ongoing disaster there: the dangerous environmental conditions. Rikers is built on a landfill. The ground underneath the facilities is unstable and the decomposing garbage emits poisonous methane gas. In addition to extreme heat and poor air quality, flooding and crumbling infrastructure pose a serious threat, especially when superstorms like Hurricane Sandy strike. As the violence and human rights violations worsen, so do the environmental circumstances surrounding Rikers.”
– Raven Rakia
Much as Raniere deserves long incarceration, nobody deserves to be in that place.
It is a disgrace that such a place should exist.
It’s like a little piece of North Korea in the US.
One of our most erudite commenters, Mr. K. R. Claviger, who is also a legal authority, wrote in reply:
Many consider the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) – which is where Raniere has been for the past 2+ years – to be just as bad as Rikers. Never getting outside, non-functioning heating and air conditioning systems, vermin-laced food, no educational programs, a third-rate health center – those are just some of the fun things that Raniere will continue to experience as long as he’s at MDC.
And BTW, New York City is in the process of closing down Rikers.
This naturally prompted Bangkok to offer a rebuttal suggesting the MDC is not so bad.
Sorry sir, but your propaganda isn’t being fact-checked by Frank very closely.
The food at MDC is not ‘vermin-laced’ as you claim.
Just because a few people have occasionally had bad food there, that doesn’t make every meal inedible and/or disease-causing.
If MDC’s food was as inedible as you claim, we’d have huge numbers of inmates hospitalized for food poisoning and major congressional investigations underway.
Yet we don’t have that.
Cuz there’s no huge problem with the food at MDC, apart from the fact that it’s not very appetizing and doesn’t include steak and filet mignon on the menu.
Show me the STATISTICS for food poisoning at MDC.
Well, that’s assuming you’re not too afraid to let your readers be exposed to the TRUTH.
Frank needs to provide a COUNTER narrative which FACT-CHECKS Claviger’s claims for MDC.
Why won’t Frank do that for us?
Also… Even though Mr. Claviger scare-mongered about COVID at MDC a few months ago (and how it might kill or infect most every inmate, LOL) ——- the truth turned out far less dramatic than his predictions.
Quote from NY Daily News recently:
“The Bureau of Prisons has argued conditions are not nearly as bad as critics claims and that the virus is under control inside the jail. Six inmates and 40 staff at MDC have tested positive for the virus, according to the Bureau of Prisons.”
Only six inmates tested positive for Kung-Flu.
Just six, LOL.
How is that the end of the world?
How many MDC inmates died of COVID?
How many staff died?
It’s basically like the flu UNLESS you’re over 65 or have a serious health condition.
That doesn’t mean it’s harmless.
It simply means that if you look at the DEATH rate of the flu (for everybody UNDER 65 years old) —– you’ll see that Kung-Flu’s death rate is no worse for people UNDER 65 years old.
…and for people under 35 years old, the death rate from the Flu is actually HIGHER than the death rate for Kung-Flu.
That’s right. The regular flu kills far more YOUNGER people than Kung-Flu does.
It’s a fact. Look at the statistics.
Didn’t you know that, sir?
That’s the truth which you HATE to have published for FrankReport’s readers
As for the air conditioning system, it’s a fucken PRISON —- so what do you expect?
It doesn’t have golf or tennis either, but that’s hardly a human rights violation. LOL.
Hundreds of prisons in South America and Mexico have conditions 100x worse than MDC —— and yet you have no problems with that.
In many South American prisons inmates literally get no food unless they pay for it (the guards deliver food to gang leaders, then prisoners must buy it from the gangs or cut a deal to work for food).
Also, these same inmates (in South American prisons) can buy real guns and real knives, and often have small battles inside the prison.
Also, they often pack 50 inmates into a single cell designed for 10 people, where everybody must sleep just inches away from other inmates’ dirty, smelly feet.
Now that’s a far worse prison than MDC.
Yet you pretend as though MDC is among the worst prisons in the world ——- when the truth is that it’s not even close to being among the worst prisons in the world.
You’re just so disconnected from reality that it’s amazing you even passed the BAR exam (on your 6th try, as I understand it).
Nobody believes your propaganda about MDC except for the ignorant people.
I implore Frank to fact-check these issues and start a conversation to find the truth about MDC.
Why can we not fact-check Mr. Claviger, Frank?
Why is the TRUTH about MDC not newsworthy?
Have a nice day. 🙂
End of Bangkok’s comment.
By Frank Parlato
Bangkok has offered a challenge to readers: Is MDC as bad as some claim? I hope we get some debate on this.
One of the things that most people forget when discussing MDC is that the vast majority of its population is defendants awaiting trial. That means they have not been convicted and by law are innocent until proven guilty.
To subject these to more inhumane conditions than necessary is a crime committed by America. Someone should protest it. And if it takes minorities to suffer to spark any outrage, it is certainly true that the vast majority of pretrial detainees at MDC are minorities.
But are conditions bad?
They seem to be bad, and especially during the pandemic:
Another inmate was reported dead at the prison, three weeks after he quietly died of unknown causes on May 19, according to the New York Daily News.
Last December, a power outage forced 1,600 inmates to bear below-freezing temperatures for an entire week, leading to a probe by the federal Department of Justice.
The coronavirus subjected prisoners to near-constant confinement. Reportedly, prisoners are locked in their cells almost 24 hours a day and are allowed to come out for 1 hour, three times a week to shower, use the phone, read and send emails, do laundry — all within that 1-hour period.
Since imposing restrictions back on April 1st, prison officials canceled routine maintenance of cells. Toilets, which do not have lids, are not being cleaned, adding to the putrid smells already inside the facility known for its poor ventilation.
A lawsuit by six inmates at MDC filed on March 27, requested oversight of the facility’s pandemic response and the release of inmates with existing medical conditions. Federal Judge Rachel P. Kovner denied their request for a Preliminary Injunction on June 10 but the lawsuit continues.
Overall, even when there was no pandemic, MDC does not offer inmates natural light, air, or outdoor recreation spaces. What MDC does offer is an abundance of mold, blood-borne diseases, asbestos, and particulate matter.
Inmates do not breathe in anything but recycled air containing spore dust and bacteria that continuously circulate throughout the building.
The Food Services areas are infested with rodent droppings, germs, and bacteria. There is little to no effort to control rats, mice, cockroaches, and flies. There are rat droppings in the kitchen area. Food at MDC is sometimes spoiled and moldy. The food is cooked in the West Building and delivered to the units where it is re-heated and served to inmates.
The approximate square footage per inmate for Recreation Space is eight square feet. The approximate square footage for personal bedding space per inmate is 21 square feet (this includes footlocker space); plus 14 square feet of shared-common space with adjacent inmates.
In the dorm-like open area where the female prisoners reside, ninety plus inmates share six showers; 3 urinal stalls and 3 shit stalls, 2 dryers and 2 washing machines. In the cell areas where men reside, each pair of “cellies” shares an open toilet and sink — and a set of cast-iron bunk beds.
The washers and dryers sometimes run almost 24 hours a day. There is no circulation of air; one fan is provided for each unit. The dryers vent directly into the sleeping, eating, and living space. This introduces particulate matter which exacerbates colds, flus, asthma, coughs, and other breathing disease entities.
The supply air has clogged and filthy outlets indicating that the supply air itself is full of airborne matter (dust, organics and particles). Inmates breathe dirty air that gets recycled without sufficient fresh air. Mold is present on ducts, shower areas, ceilings, and walls.
There are no physical barriers between sleeping, eating, and restroom areas. When they are not in confinement, men eat a few feet away from toilets, showers and dryer/washers. The kitchen area is also in the same physical space.
Men are also very likely made to sleep on a urine stained, worn mattresses.
Mold is visible on the floors and walls of the showers. Most showers do not have working drains, so wastewater flows onto adjoining showers. The vents where air conditioning and heat come into the unit do not have filters.
At MDC, inmates are stripped searched (every item of clothing comes off) after every visit or trip outside the prison. There is zero independent movement outside the immediate unit and adjoining “Recreation Deck” – when they are not in confinement 23.5 – 24 hours hours per day during the pandemic.
Not Right for Convicts, Let Alone Pretrial Detainees
Whether or not there are worse facilities in the world, and there probably are, why is it necessary to subject Americans to these conditions?.
Keep in mind that most inmates at MDC are not convicted. Out of 1600 or so detainees, all but a few hundred are awaiting trial.
That means, by American law, some 1400 men and women are being held there who are innocent until proven guilty.
This means that the innocent are being subjected to health-destroying conditions.
Some have speculated that the Orwellian named Department of Justice, which runs the Bureau of Prisons, likes it this way.
Detainees, even totally innocent ones, would be far more likely to take a quick plea deal and spare themselves these horrid conditions, which are actually worse than convicts face in regular prisons, and get out to a regular prison, where they can at least breathe and go outside in the yard.
Talk about “I can’t breathe”? Here are tens of thousands of people over the years getting tortured and having difficulty breathing [some of them dying] and no one really cares.
They have been charged so they must be guilty.
An additional advantage for the Department of [In]Justice is that with the accused detainee’s health failing, as it must in such a facility, he or she will be less likely to be able to make a robust defense at trial. Sick people have less stamina and the Department of [In]Justice has reverted to the law of the jungle.
It does not matter if someone is innocent or guilty to them. Defendants are commodities. Promotions are won through conviction stats. Human beings being what they are – and that includes prosecutors – if conviction stats are the road to promotion, innocent people can fill the void when there are no guilty ones to destroy.
In this way, the Department of [In]Justice is much like the sociopaths and psychopaths they prosecute. They have the power, and it is, unfortunately true, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Prosecutors in America, especially federal prosecutors, have near-absolute power. It is impossible that many of them will not abuse it.
It must be changed.
Just as senators and even presidents can be corrupt and must have checks and balances, prosecutors should also. What makes anyone believe that a prosecutor, operating with secret grand juries and in tandem with the police and the FBI [widely known to be corrupt], would be any more ethical than other species of government employees.
Yet, there are virtually no checks and balances for prosecutors. There are no body-cams; no strong media watchdogs, no impeachment, no election challenges [for federal and most state prosecutors], and little to no review of crooked grand jury presentments.
In federal law, there is a presumption of regularity in grand jury proceedings that denies defendants the right to examine what actually occurred in the grand jury that likely led to the ruination of a defendant’s life.
In the world of prosecution, the reverse of Blackstone has been the new normal.
Blackstone and others opined that it is better that ten guilty ones go free, than one innocent suffer. The American system has now become, it is better that 10 innocents suffer than one guilty one go free.
This has been proven again and again by the Innocence Project, where it was shown that as high as 10 percent of DNA exonerees had pleaded guilty in order to avoid death sentences or very long incarceration periods. That means totally innocent people are pleading guilty to crimes they did not comment because of the coercive prosecutorial system in American.
This is certainly something that should get on the list of things to protest. It may be as important as toppling statues.
It may be time to defund the prosecutors [divert some of their budgets to justice and not prosecution] and stop rewarding them for convictions. Their promotions should be based on justice, not the number of convictions or lack of acquittals they produce.
Then perhaps we would see a glint of humanity at MDC and elsewhere in America.