NYC mayor’s admin wants permission to house migrants in jail where Epstein died
A lawyer expressed City Hall’s interest in using the defunct Metropolitan Correctional Center to house migrants amid severe overcrowding in shelters
By Chris Sommerfeldt
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration wants permission from the federal government to house migrants in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, the infamous jail that closed down in 2021 following years of complaints over dangerous conditions.
Daniel Perez, a top lawyer for Adams, expressed City Hall’s interest in using the defunct downtown Manhattan lockup in a letter sent to Gov. Hochul’s administration last week that listed off various sites the city believes it could use for housing migrants amid severe overcrowding in city-run shelters.
Perez’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News through a Freedom of Information Law request, specifically says the administration would like the federal government to give either the city or the state authority to place migrants in “closed correctional and transitional sites such as Metropolitan Correctional Center.”
The federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the facility, said Thursday it could not provide any comment “concerning governmental correspondence” with the Adams administration about the downtown Manhattan jail.
A spokeswoman for Adams said she did not immediately have information on any contact between the administration and BOP or other federal agencies related .
Before shuttering, the jail, commonly known as the MCC, was for years marred by reports of deteriorating conditions, including sewage floods, vermin infestations, COVID-19 outbreaks and egregious security breaches.
Two years before its closure, the MCC saw one of its worst security breaches, when authorities say financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in his cell while awaiting trial on charges that he sexually trafficked children.
After Epstein’s death, two MCC correctional officers admitted to neglecting their duties the night of the convicted sex offender’s death, leaving him unattended for hours even though he had been placed on suicide watch.
It’s unclear when the federal government might reopen the facility.
Upon announcing its closure in 2021, the feds said it would remain closed “at least temporarily” to make way for renovations.
BOP spokesman Donald Murphy said Thursday that “long-term plans” for the MCC “have not been finalized,” suggesting it may never be used as a jail again.
Word of the Adams administration’s push for using the MCC as a shelter comes as the city’s scrambling to accommodate the tens of thousands of mostly Latin American migrants who have arrived since last spring.
According to the latest data from Adams’ office, there are more than 58,000 migrants in city shelters and emergency housing facilities.
The influx has led to severe overcrowding in the city’s traditional homeless shelters, prompting the Adams administration to open emergency migrant housing facilities in a variety of unconventional spaces.
The administration is already using the Lincoln Correctional Facility, a shuttered state prison in Harlem, to house migrants. This spring, The News reported that the administration was also considering placing migrants in a closed down jail on Rikers Island.