On Tuesday, February 5th, Federal District Judge Analisa Torres declined to appoint a “special master” to inspect conditions, investigate complaints, and help prevent retaliation against incarcerated people at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She also ruled that there was insufficient evidence to grant the transfer of two detained people who fear retaliation after speaking out and testifying about conditions at MDC. Judge Torres’s decision was made after touring the jail and finding conditions partially improved. Judge Torres appears content that the humanitarian crisis at MDC will be resolved without oversight.

Advocates, grassroots organizers, and family members of the detainees are concerned about the well-being of individuals detained at MDC. Judge Torres’s ruling continues to uphold and protect the Bureau of Prison’s actions, which are rooted in systemic state-sanctioned violence and treat detained individuals as being unworthy of human dignity and basic human rights.

In the past week, the world has learned of the horrendous conditions faced by those detained at MDC. The lack of access to basic necessities-- including hot water, food, heat, medicine, movement, and contact with loved ones-- and human rights abuses was shared by incarcerated people and their families and amplified by community members on the ground outside the jail. The sound of detainees pounding on the walls and their screams viscerally echoed in the streets and in our hearts. We will continue to amplify their voices until harm is alleviated and basic human rights and necessities are restored.

This recent crisis at MDC has brought new attention to an old reality. What has taken place at MDC is not exceptional. Jails and prisons across New York and this country are violent, dehumanizing, and unreformable institutions that harm individuals, families, and communities. The reality is that since it was built MDC has gotten away with atrocious, violent, and dehumanizing treatment of incarcerated people. Within the past three years alone MDC guards were convicted of sexually assaulting incarcerated women; incarcerated people filed a lawsuit alleging that the jail is toxic; and the National Association of Women Judges condemned the facility’s lack of light, air, and medical services. Without sustained community pressure, courts and politicians may be fooled by the partial clean-up of common areas and cages, but we know better.

We need to hold all those responsible for the conditions at MDC accountable starting with the dismissal of Warden Herman Quay. But we cannot stop there. In response to this incident, we recognize that the emergency did not create inhumane conditions at MDC, but instead only intensified the violent nature of incarceration itself. Jails and prisons impose an endless list of dehumanizing restrictions and conditions every day.

We have seen it before and we will see it again. Until we find solutions to transform individuals and communities who have caused and experienced harm, and eradicate the prison and jail industrial complex, our people and our communities will continue to suffer at the hands of this multi-generational plague. MDC is no different from the jails on Rikers Island or the four new jails Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to build. Our vision of transformative change requires reimagining our lives without policing, jails, prisons and all forms of confinement; it begins with a commitment to ending mass incarceration and our need to punish people; completely cutting our ties with the legacy of slavery; and ending the practice of caging Black, Brown, and poor people’s bodies.

Ultimately, we are committed to building a world without policing and incarceration. We know that conditions at MDC and all other jails and prisons across the country will never be “fixed” and that abolishing jails and prison is the only way to ensure that the violence inherent in human caging ends. Even as we organize for abolition, we recognize the necessity and urgency of ensuring that currently incarcerated people have access to the resources they need to survive.

Thank you to the hundreds of concerned individuals, from across the globe, that have joined us on the ground, donated, and amplified our effort. Every contribution has made a huge impact on how we do the work and the ways we are able to show up for detainees and their loved loves.


RALLY AT MDC! Thursday, February 7th, at 7 pm. Join family members, organizers, and members of #NoNewJails_NYC to show MDC Warden Herman Quay, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Judge Torres that we’re not going anywhere until our incarcerated community members tell us to.

JOIN US at MDC to help record and circulate reports from detainees and their families about conditions at the jail. Sign up for shifts here and follow @NoNewJails_NYC, @Msbritt_305 @blackboikei and @1samanthajoh on Twitter for on-the-ground updates. Because Bureau of Prisons and MDC officials cannot be trusted to tell the truth about what is actually going on in the jail (and have been lying throughout this ordeal), we are collecting and amplifying reports from incarcerated people and their loved ones.

PACK THE COURTS! There is ongoing litigation in the federal courts about the conditions at MDC. We will continue to pack the court over the coming weeks and support family members in attending hearings. Please follow @NoNewJails_NYC on Twitter for updates about upcoming court dates and ways to support our efforts to pack the courts and support family members’ attendance at hearings.

SIGN THE PETITION! Warden Quay has got to go! While we know that nothing short of release will guarantee true safety for incarcerated people, Warden Quay cannot be left in charge after presiding over this humanitarian crisis and lying about it.

Also, please join us for a webinar next week:

Liberatory Rapid Response: A guide to support detainees and family at protests based on lessons from Direct Response to MDC Mobilization. Wednesday, Feb. 13th @9pm. Follow the Facebook event for webinar link when shared!