Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn

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Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn
Location80 29th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232
Security classAdministrative facility (all security levels)
Managed byFederal Bureau of Prisons
WardenHerman E Quay

The Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn (MDC Brooklyn) is a United States federal administrative detention facility in the South Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. It holds male and female prisoners of all security levels. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.

Most prisoners held at MDC Brooklyn have pending cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. MDC Brooklyn also holds prisoners serving brief sentences.[2] By February 2019, 1,600 prisoners were held in MDC Brooklyn.[1]

One former warden, Cameron Lindsay said that "The M.D.C. was one of the most troubled, if not the most troubled facility in the Bureau of Prisons."[3]


MDC Brooklyn occupies land that was originally part of Bush Terminal (now Industry City), a historic intermodal shipping, warehousing, and manufacturing complex.[4] The Federal Bureau of Prisons initially proposed converting two buildings at Industry City into a federal jail in 1988, due to overcrowding at the Manhattan Detention Complex.[5] There was large opposition from members of the local community, who feared that traffic congestion in the area would rise.[6] Critics feared that the facility, with its staff, inmates, visitors, and supply deliveries, would overburden neighborhood traffic and water and sewer systems.[7][8] To make room for MDC Brooklyn, one of the original Bush Terminal loft buildings—Federal Building No. 1, formerly occupied by the United States Coast Guard—was destroyed in a controlled explosion in August 1993.[9]

MDC Brooklyn opened in the early 1990s. It was built to hold 1,000 inmates awaiting arraignment or trial at the federal court in the Eastern District of New York.[10] By 2019, according to The New York Times, it held 1600 inmates.[1]

In 1999, a second facility was opened adjacent to the original complex to house inmates who have already been sentenced and are awaiting transfer to a permanent facility. This brought the total number of inmates to close to 3,000 and made MDC Brooklyn the largest detention center in the United States.

In June 2015, a lawsuit filed in 2002 against high-ranking officials of George W. Bush's presidential administration, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III, brought by eight, mostly Muslim immigrant detainees, was allowed to go forward by a three-judge federal panel. It alleged that the plaintiffs were subject to chronic arbitrary abuses including beatings, strip searches and solitary confinement. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision included one dissent.[11]

Notable incidents[edit]

Inmate assault[edit]

On June 29, 2009, Ronald Atkinson, an inmate at MDC Brooklyn who had been arrested in connection with six bank robberies twelve days earlier, committed an unprovoked assault on a correctional counselor, punching him in the head multiple times until he was restrained by correctional officers. As a result of the assault, the counselor, whom the Bureau of Prisons did not identify, suffered serious injuries, including a broken nose, broken facial bones, a fractured eye socket, a laceration requiring stitches and two slipped discs in his neck. An 18-year veteran of the Bureau of Prisons, the counselor was forced to take a medical retirement as a result of his injuries.[12]

Atkinson was subsequently sentenced to 7 years in federal prison for the bank robberies. On July 19, 2013, he was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison in connection with the assault. Atkinson is scheduled for release in 2031.[13]

Ronell Wilson[edit]

On February 5, 2013, New York media outlets reported that Nancy Gonzalez, a former federal correction officer, had engaged in a sexual relationship with Ronell Wilson, an inmate at MDC Brooklyn, and that Gonzalez was carrying Wilson's child. Wilson, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2003 murders of NYPD Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin, was awaiting a resentencing hearing in Brooklyn federal court after his original death sentence was overturned in 2010, when he began a relationship with Gonzalez. Gonzalez was terminated and arraigned in federal court on charges of sexual abuse of a person in custody, because an inmate cannot legally consent to sex.[14][15] Wilson was subsequently transferred to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Gonzalez pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual abuse of a ward on July 3, 2013.[16] Gonzalez was sentenced to a year and a day by Federal Judge Brian Cogan on February 9, 2014. Cogan remarked, "[Gonzalez has] severe emotional dysfunction".[17]

Wilson was sentenced to death again on September 10, 2013. During the hearing, US District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis called for a formal investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general into the management of MDC Brooklyn, where, he said, Mr. Wilson was "permitted to treat the MDC as his own private fiefdom."[18]

Winter 2019 heating and power issues[edit]

In January and February 2019, over 1,600 inmates were kept with little to no heat and power for a week during the January 2019 North American cold wave. Numerous inmates reported ill health and were seen banging on windows for help. Activists and some New York officials became involved in seeking to improve conditions.[19][20] The incident started on the weekend of January 26–27 with a power outage. A problematic electrical panel was repaired but caught fire the next day.[20] Power was restored on the evening of February 3,[21] and the Department of Justice planned to investigate the incident.[22][23] Inmates, family members and lawyers have said that those inmates involved in protesting these harsh conditions through non-violent disobedience and hunger strikes have faced draconian reprisals from jail staff, including being pepper sprayed, subjected to solitary confinement and having toilets shut off. According to a report in The Intercept:

On all three of those housing units where men collectively refused food, jail staff shut off the valves to the toilets in all of the cells, according to accounts relayed to lawyers. Confined to their cells on lockdown, deprived of light, the men on these units now found themselves shivering on their bunks with their heads inches from toilet bowls nearly overflowing with festering feces.[24]

Notable inmates[edit]

Inmate Name Rtter Photo Status Details
6ix9ine 86335-054 6ix9ine June 2018 (cropped).jpg Moved to a different facility as a safety precaution[25] Rapper, birth name Daniel Hernandez, charged with racketeering and firearm offenses [26]
Allison Mack 90838-053 Allison Mack at ComicCon 2009 NN.jpg Awaiting trial. Released on April 24th, 2018. Actress; presently charged with sex trafficking.[27]
Martin Shkreli 87850-053 Martin Shkreli House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2016.jpg Moved to Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix in April 2018.[28] Former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals; convicted in 2017 of securities fraud;[29] his bail was subsequently revoked after he made a Facebook post offering his followers $5,000 for Hillary Clinton's hair.[30][31]
Vincent Asaro 83223-053 Asaro was sentenced to 8 years in December 2017. Asaro is New York City mobster and capo in the Bonanno crime family. Asaro was found guilty in a vehicle arson case.[32]
Linda Weston 68897-066 Serving a life sentence.[33] Indicted in 2013 for murder, racketeering, hate crimes and other charges for leading a group who held mentally disabled individuals against their will between 2001 and 2011 in order to steal their Social Security benefits, two of whom died as a result of abuse.[34][35]
Abid Naseer 05770-748 Serving 40-year sentence. Alleged Al-Qaeda operative; extradited from the United Kingdom in 2012 to face charges that he took part in an international conspiracy to conduct bombings in the United States and Europe; sentenced in 2015 to 40 years; three co-conspirators were convicted in 2010 and 2012.[36]
Al Sharpton 21458-069 Al Sharpton January 2015.jpg Served 90 days at MDC Brooklyn in 2001. Baptist minister, political activist and current MSNBC television host; convicted of trespassing on federal property for protesting against the US military presence on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.[37]
Megan Rice 88101-020 Released from custody on April 16, 2015. Anti-nuclear activist and Roman Catholic nun; convicted in 2013 of sabotage for unlawfully entering the Y-12 National Security Complex and vandalizing a facility housing weapons-grade uranium.[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Correal, Annie; Newman, Andy; Goldbaum, Christina (February 2, 2019). "Protesters Try to Storm Brooklyn Jail With Little Heat or Electricity". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "MDC Brooklyn". Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  3. ^ Correal, Annie; Goldstein, Joseph (9 February 2019). "'It's Cold as Hell': Inside a Brooklyn Jail's Weeklong Collapse". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  4. ^ United States. Bureau of Prisons (1991). Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn: Environmental Impact Statement. Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn: Environmental Impact Statement. p. 21. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Farrell, Bill (March 25, 1988). "Feds need more space to house the bad eggs". New York Daily News. p. 70. Retrieved November 29, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Prial, Frank J. (February 6, 1991). "Jail Is Planned For Brooklyn, And Foes Rise". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Lambert, Bruce (December 19, 2003). "Lambert, Bruce, "U.S. to Open Jail, Despite Snags"". The New York Times.
  8. ^ McMorris, Frances (May 22, 1991). "Sunset Park rains on jail". New York Daily News. p. 361. Retrieved November 29, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ Allen, Michael O. (August 16, 1993). "Wrecking crew clears way for detention ctr". New York Daily News. p. 341. Retrieved December 1, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ Prial, Frank J. (February 6, 1991). "Jail Is Planned For Brooklyn, And Foes Rise". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  11. ^ Immigrants' Lawsuit Over Post 9/11 Detention Is Revived, New York Times, Adam Liptak, June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  12. ^ "Defendant Sentenced to 151 Months' Imprisonment for Assaulting Correctional Counselor at the Metropolitan Correctional Center". Federal Bureau of Investigation. July 19, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "Inmate Locator - Ronald Atkinson". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Secret, Mosi (February 5, 2013). "Impregnated by Prisoner, Guard Now Faces Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Marzulli, John (February 5, 2013). "Convicted cop killer Ronell Wilson impregnanted female guard in twisted plan to avoid death penalty". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  16. ^ Hays, Tom (July 3, 2013). "Nancy Gonzalez, New York Jail Guard, Admits To Affair With Convicted Cop Killer Ronell Wilson". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  17. ^ Marzulli, John (February 9, 2014). "Ronnell Wilson's baby-mama gets prison time". New York Daily News.
  18. ^ Secret, Mosi (September 10, 2013). "For the Second Time, a Killer of Two Detectives Is Sentenced to Death". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  19. ^ Rosenblatt, Kalhan (February 2, 2019). "Outrage grows over reports of Brooklyn prison with little heat, electricity during frigid week". NBC News. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Correal, Annie (February 1, 2019). "No Heat for Days at a Jail in Brooklyn Where Hundreds of Inmates Are Sick and 'Frantic'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Nessen, Stephen (February 4, 2019). "Power Restored To Brooklyn Jail Where Inmates Went A Week Without Heat". NPR. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Walker, Julie (February 3, 2019). "Justice Department to probe federal jail in NYC". AP News. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  23. ^ Weiser, Benjamin; Correal, Annie (February 5, 2019). "Brooklyn Jail to Be Visited by Federal Judge After Heat and Power Crisis". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  24. ^ Whitford, Emma; Pinto, Nick (February 16, 2019). "Locked Inside a Freezing Federal Jail, They United to Protest Their Conditions — Only to Face Reprisals". The Intercept. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Is Tekashi 6ix9ine out of jail? Rapper transferred after reportedly receiving death threats".
  26. ^ "Brooklyn rapper 6ix9ine arrested on racketeering charges".
  27. ^ "Smallville's Allison Mack Allegedly Forced 'Slaves' Into Sex Acts After Luring Women Into Controversial Group". Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  28. ^ Walters, Joanna; agencies (April 19, 2018). "'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli moved to low-security federal prison in New Jersey". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  29. ^ Horowitz, Aaron Smith and Julia (August 4, 2017). "Martin Shkreli convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy". CNNMoney. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  30. ^ Merle, Renae (2017-09-13). "Martin Shkreli jailed after Facebook post about Hillary Clinton". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  31. ^ Mangan, Dan (September 14, 2017). "Martin Shkreli's new jailhouse home is 'not where you want to be'". Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  32. ^ Gangster Vincent Asaro admits he ordered man's vehicle torched, John Gotti’s grandson cops to driving getaway car - Daily News New York(07/03/2017)
  33. ^ Ellis, Ralph (November 6, 2015). "Woman sentenced to life in prison for holding disabled people captive". Cable News Network. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  34. ^ "Philadelphia "Basement of Horrors": 5 charged in hate crime, murder of mentally disabled victims". CBS News. January 24, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  35. ^ "Federal charges allege captors held adults with disabilities in subhuman conditions to carry out social security fraud". US Department of Justice. January 23, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  36. ^ Secret, Mosi (January 3, 2013). "Pakistani in Terror Case Is Extradited to New York". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  37. ^ Feuer, Alan (June 12, 2001). "Sleeker by 14 Pounds, Sharpton Fights On". Retrieved April 29, 2010.
  38. ^ "Three Individuals Convicted of Sabotage at the Y-12 National Security Complex Sentenced". Federal Bureau of Investigation. February 19, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  39. ^ Reuters (February 18, 2014). "Tennessee: Nun Is Sentenced for Peace Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°39′37″N 74°00′16″W / 40.66028°N 74.00444°W / 40.66028; -74.00444