NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Power has been restored to a federal correction facility in Brooklyn after inmates were left without lights or heat for a week.
Now, lawmakers and loved ones are demanding an investigation.
Visiting hours were supposed to resume Monday, but have been put on hold, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reports.
Police on scene told CBS2 there was a credible bomb threat.
Inmates could be seen tapping on cell windows at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park to communicate with those who have been watching and rallying there for days.
“Let them know that we’re out here, they’re not alone,” said Nyella Love, who’s among the advocates camped outside to support those inside living with limited heat, hot water and electricity.
“I think it’s a shame, it’s unfortunate,” added another advocate, Samantha Johnson, of No New Jails.
Power was restored around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, met with the sound of cheers.
“It was like a breath of fresh air,” said Kyaisha Murray, the sister of an inmate.
“Mothers and children were crying. It was really a moment to just sit and know that it’s possible when people come together,” Johnson said.
A fire in the switch room was blamed for the partial outage, which first came to light Thursday amid below-freezing temperatures.
Many family members hoped to get inside Monday after they were also left in the dark.
“I haven’t spoken to my husband for a whole week. I don’t know nothing. I don’t know if he ate, I don’t know if he’s freezing,” said Stacy Tejada.
City Comptroller Scott Stinger took a tour of the federal fun facility, which houses roughly 1,600 inmates, on Sunday.
“It was clearly colder, there were people locked down, there was emergency lighting only, and there seemed to be just a lack of move, sort of like a slow walking, well whatever happens happens as long as the prisoners are locked away,” he said.
He believes the noise outside made all the difference. Many advocates plan to keep a presence there until they hear from inmates that conditions have improved.
“We can’t stop the fight. It has to be back on the federal government to be held accountable,” said Johnson.
State and city lawmakers want answers, too.
“I’m calling on the @TheJusticeDept to immediately investigate the circumstances at the #MDC in Brooklyn. New York stands ready to provide any support necessary to keep the heat, hot water and electricity running,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Sunday.
“A federal official confirmed to me the power is back on at MDC. Make no mistake: this took people power. Thank you to the families, activists and officials who fought for the dignity of people inside. More work ahead—let’s keep at it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement, which said the facility “can now begin to return to regular operations.”
“In the coming days, the Department will work with the Bureau of Prisons to examine what happened and ensure the facility has the power, heat and backup systems in place to prevent the problem from reoccurring,” the statement continued.