As temperatures rose to triple digits in the Northeast, inmates at New Jersey’s Bergen County Jail battled with no air conditioning leading activists to protest over their treatment.
Reports indicate that air conditioning at the Bergen County Jail malfunctioned around 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 19. Inmates were moved to another area in the jail.
“Inmates/detainees were moved out of the affected areas to a suitable environment,’’ Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton said in a statement. “The units were evaluated and the air conditioning was restored soon thereafter. Random checks are being performed to monitor the jail’s climate.”
Protestors and immigrant rights groups demanded action from the Bergen County Jail, where inmates, including ICE detainees, faced dangerous conditions. The air conditioning system at the jail reportedly had problems in the weeks before the recent heat wave.
“We found out late last night that it still hadn’t been repaired,’’ said Nedia Morsy, a community organizer for Make the Road New Jersey. “Bergen County Jail houses immigrant detainees and it’s cruel and inhumane that there are still folks inside on the hottest day of the year. There are warnings that people should not be out…..and the AC is still not working inside the Bergen County Jail.”
One of the detainees who’s been a focus of the protests is Mexican immigrant Inocencio Roman Solano who is facing deportation despite being in the U.S. for the last 20 years. Advocates say Solano suffers from several health issues including Type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver.
The Bronx Defenders, The Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Defender Services are also speaking about the conditions at the Bergen County Jail. The organizations provide free legal representation through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project to detained immigrants with pending cases at the Varick Street Immigration Court.
In a joint statement the organizations said they fear immigrants being detained at the jail are not being treated humanely.
“Given the jail’s troubling track record on health, humanitarian and other issues, we fear for our clients—especially as temperatures rise over the next several days to record highs this summer,” they said.