Brooklyn federal jailers work 16-hour shifts amid influx of prisoners as government closes Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide cell in Manhattan


Brooklyn Federal Prison grapples with a severe staff shortage as new inmates pour in from the Manhattan federal blockade about to close, said a senior union official.

Stretched prison officers at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center are struggling to cope with the new inmate transfers from Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center arriving every day, Brooklyn Prison Union President Rhonda Barnwell said.

“As we have no staff, some days there is no one assigned to accommodation. Sometimes for eight hours there is no one there. It’s very dangerous, ”said Barnwell, who works in the MDC’s medical department. “The agency [Bureau of Prisons] is fully aware that we have had several unstaffed positions, and they have done absolutely nothing about it.

The result is exhausted correctional officers double shifts and sleeping in their cars outside Sunset Park Jail, Barnwell said. Often, she said, sick inmates do not receive treatment because medical staff are understaffed.

“The staff are tired. Some staff members work 16 hours a day, five days a week, ”said the union leader.

Barnwell said she was concerned the staff shortage could translate into more inmate fighting and more contraband smuggled into the prison.

Prison officers are “not at their best to actually see some of these offenses happen,” she said.

Numerous safety and health issues have been reported at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, which is about to close. Accused sexual criminal Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide there in 2019.

For a week in 2020, the Manhattan jail was locked after a a weapon was smuggled into the building. Inmates and staff have complained that this is a vermin infested nightmare, and a correctional officer was sentenced to prison in December on charges of sexual abuse of inmates over a six-year period.

The more than 200 remaining inmates in Manhattan jail are scheduled to be transferred in October, according to a source.

Barnwell’s call for additional resources comes as a chorus of New York congressmen called on the Bureau of Prisons to give them concrete plans regarding the influx of inmates to the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.

Members of Congress cited the “long and troubled history” of the Metropolitan Detention Center and questioned whether Sunset Park jail was ready for a few hundred more federal inmates who could come from Manhattan “in the absence of personnel changes. and resources “.

The letter to Director of the Bureau of Prisons Michael Carvajal was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Nydia Velàzquez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng, Ritchie Torres, Jamaal Bowman, Hakeem Jeffries, Adriano Espaillat, Gregory Meeks, Thomas Suozzi and Jerry Nadler.

A spokesperson for the BOP has promised updates on Brooklyn Jail and the “deactivation” of Manhattan Jail soon.

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