The Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn (MDC Brooklyn) is a United States federal administrative detention facility in Brooklyn, New York City which 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.
MDC Brooklyn opened in the early 1990s over opposition from neighbors and local elected officials. Critics feared that the facility, with its staff, inmates, visitors, and supply deliveries, would overburden neighborhood traffic and water and sewer systems.
It was built to hold 1,000 inmates awaiting arraignment or trial at the federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
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 Bush Administration officials, 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.
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. 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 and faces up to 16 months in prison at her sentencing, currently scheduled for October 7, 2013.
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.”
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.
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.