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NYC’s Jails Not Prepared for Coronavirus; Defenders Demand Plan From ICE

New York City’s two federal jails are not adequately prepared to handle a coronavirus outbreak, according to the New York Daily News. In addition to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which hold thousands of inmates accused of federal crimes, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities have also been tightlipped about their response plans.

The lack of information prompted New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) providers (The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders) – to send a letter on Friday to ICE and the administrators of New York City-area ICE detention facilities demanding answers on how they plan to address the crisis surrounding the impending spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last summer, because prison administrators were unable to prevent an outbreak of mumps at Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, detained immigrants were subjected to long periods of quarantine and isolation. The letter asks for solutions from ICE that will ensure the health and safety of detained immigrants are protected without infringing on their due process rights.

“As a quarantine was imposed, jail officials struggled to contain the outbreak, the quarantine time was extended, our clients’ isolation grew, visits from attorneys, family and others diminished, and our clients’ right to due process was undermined as court dates and appearances were postponed, with our clients languishing in increased civil detention,” the defenders’ letter reads in part.