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MDC/MCC/FDC Work Cadre Designations

According to The Stamford Advocate, a former Greenwich (CT) pastor reported this week to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn (NY) to serve his five-month sentence:


Located near the Gowanus Bay, the prison is classified as an administrative facility, a type of institution intended for the detention of pretrial offenders, dangerous or escape-prone inmates, or for treatment of inmates with medical problems, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Brooklyn facility is capable of holding male and female inmates in all security categories.
Missing from the article is that the BOP likely designated the pastor not to the MDC general population but to its work cadre, a segregated unit of minimum-security prisoners tasked with providing labor that pre-trial detainees, the institution’s general population, are prohibited from doing.
Brooklyn’s is not the BOP’s only work cadre unit. They are a standard component of MDCs, Metropolitan Corrections Centers (MCCs) and Federal Detention Centers (FDCs). For obvious reasons, prisoners, particularly older prisoners, tend to disfavor work cadres over Federal Prison Camps (FPCs): there is limited access to sunlight or fresh air; the institutions are noisy at all hours, making sleep difficult; recreation is limited; and there is increased exposure to higher security inmates. Perhaps recognizing the hardship that work cadre placement presents, BOP tends to designate those serving relatively short sentences (18 months or less) to the units. Not only does the practice limit a sentenced, minimum-security prisoner’s time in an administrative pre-trial holding facility, but it means that the prisoner will likely be transferred to pre-release placement (halfway house or home confinement) before serving 18 months, which policy provides is the least amount of time that an inmate must ordinarily serve at a given facility before being transferred. Plus, the shorter placement period minimizes the chances that a prisoner can exhaust administrative remedies and file suit in federal court to challenge the placement.
The best way to avoid a work cadre designation is to secure a strongly worded judicial recommendation to an FPC, with two alternate camps proposed and with a clearly stated supporting rationale. For certain inmates (i.e., those from major metropolitan areas), the one positive of cadre designation is that affords greater access to family and loved ones. And, for Puerto Rican defendants, designation to MDC Guaynabomeans not being housed in the continental United States, which for their families means the difference between the time and expense of a drive versus a flight (and a drive, and a hotel room, etc.). That said, it is the rare prisoner who seeks out a work cadre designation.
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  • Anonymous

    It seems to me that if an inmate with a custody level that qualifies for a camp environment is assigned to work cadre status at a higher security facility, the time they serve there should be counted as double. These inmates are subjected to a significantly more stressful environment and must endure de-humanizing strip searches every time they move between the areas they work and sleep. The prisons like these inmates because they don’t pose a risk, yet find a way to treat them even more harshly.