The vast majority of the inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) are only there for a short period of time.
In fact, of the 1,600 or so inmates who are incarcerated there, all but about 100 of them are awaiting trial or sentencing.
The other +/- 100 MDC inmates are “cadre” prisoners – which means they will serve their entire sentence there or, if they transferred in from another prison, the balance of their sentence there.
MDC is operated as a maximum security prison.
And its facilities are old and often non-functional.
In 2019, one former warden, Cameron Lindsay testified that “The M.D.C. was one of the most troubled, if not the most troubled facility in the Bureau of Prisons.”
Day-to-day life at MDC is not a pleasant experience.
So, what could it make it worse, you ask?
Going to trial can make it worse – much worse.
As in any prison, the top concerns at MDC are security and safety.
Security to ensure that inmates do not have an opportunity to escape.
Safety to ensure that Correctional Officers (COs) are never put “at risk”.
To address those concerns, MDC has developed numerous procedures and rules – many of which are meant to ensure that all the inmates are in specified locations at certain times of the day (That’s when the “counts” take place).
Trials, however, have their own schedules and requirements – and they do not line-up well with the prison’s normal routines.
And trials pose special security and safety problems because they require prisoners to be moved back-and-forth between the prison and the courthouse twice per day.
At MDC, inmates who are involved in a trial are often housed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) or in another isolated area of the prison.
That makes it much easier for the COs when the inmates are being transferred to – or returning from – the courthouse.
For Raniere, every day that he has to be at the courthouse is a long and tedious day.
To begin with, he’ll be awakened early – probably between 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM – and walked over to the Receiving & Discharge (R&D) Unit.
Once he arrives at the R&D Unit, Raniere will be immediately placed in a holding cell.
Holding cells at MDC are about 10’x15’ – and having nothing in them except poured concrete slabs to sit on. They are not comfortable places.
Depending on what the COs in the R&D Unit think of Raniere, he may get a breakfast tray or a brown bag with a Styrofoam cup of cheerios, a carton of milk and an apple in it.
Sometime between 6:30 AM and 7:00 AM, Raniere will be taken from his holding cell to the strip out area. There, he’ll stand on a little concrete slab, remove all his clothes, and go through the standard MDC strip search (“Turn around, spread ‘em, pick up your sack, and cough”). Lots of fun.
Next, Raniere will be given whatever clothes he’s going to wear to court that day. I’m not sure how many outfits he has – but they will all be stored in the R&D Unit throughout this trial.
Once he’s dressed in his going-to-court clothes, Raniere will be placed back into a holding cell. There, he will be outfitted with the full array of security devices that are used to ensure prisoners don’t escape – or don’t escape very far – while they’re out of the prison. This will include a set of ankle cuffs, a set of handcuffs, and a body-chain that is looped between the two sets of cuffs and then locked into a “box” that goes between his hands (Once he’s fully shackled, he’ll be able to move his hands about 6”-10” in any direction).
Finally, somewhere between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM, Raniere will be taken out of his holding cell, passed through a metal detector, and then transported to the U.S. District Courthouse for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY).
[I’m not sure if Raniere is being transported to/from the courthouse by U.S. Marshals or COs from MDC. But either way, there will be at least two of them with him every moment that he is out of MDC]
Although it’s usually only about a 20-minute ride from MDC to the EDNY courthouse, Raniere’s ride will probably take at least 30-minutes. That’s because the protocol is to transport prisoners via a different route each day.
Sometime around 8:00 AM, Raniere will arrive at the courthouse – and be immediately placed in a (you guessed it) holding cell (I’m not sure where the holding cells are at this courthouse but they’re most likely in the basement).
This time, he may be placed with several other prisoners who have court appearances that day – or he may be placed by himself.
And, depending on what the U.S. Marshals think of Raniere, he’ll either be left fully shackled or with just his handcuffs on.
Sometime before 9:30 AM, Raniere will be transported to a small holding room near the 4-D South courtroom (He’ll only have handcuffs on at this point). There, he may have a few minutes to meet with his attorneys before the day’s proceedings begin.
Throughout the proceedings, Raniere will be flanked by two U.S. Marshals (He won’t have any handcuffs on while he’s in the courtroom – but they’ll go back on as soon as he walks out of it). And every time there’s a break in the proceedings, they will escort him back to that small holding room.
[I’m not sure where they take him for the one-hour lunch break but it will either be the small holding room or a holding cell. Either way, some sort of lunch will be provided to him during this period].
Finally, when the trial is over for the day, Raniere will go through the reverse of his morning routine.
First, he’ll be transported back to a holding cell by the two U.S. Marshals who are guarding him.
There, he’ll be bundled back up in the full array of ankle cuffs, handcuffs, body-chain, and the “box”.
Finally, he‘ll be transported back to MDC’s R&D Unit where he began his day. Depending on how long they wait to move him from the courthouse – and the route they take – he’ll probably arrive back at MDC sometime between 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM (Court usually ends around 5:00 PM each day).
Which is, of course, well after dinner time at MDC.
But, not to worry, with a guy as popular as Raniere, one of the COs will surely have set aside a tray of food for him.
And there’s nothing quite so tasty as a nice cold MDC meal after a fun-filled day.
But before Raniere will be able to eat, he’ll have to sit in a holding cell for a while (How long he sits there is entirely up to the COs on duty).
Then, he’ll be moved over to the strip-out area where he’ll go through another full strip search – and then be given his regular MDC onesie uniform.
After that, he may be taken straight back to where’s he’s staying for the night or left to sit in a holding cell for a while. Once again, that’s entirely up to the discretion of the COs on duty that night.
He may also have to go through a screening by the Medical Unit on his way back to where he’s staying. Depending on the availability of medical staff, that can add 15-30 minutes to the walk back.
But finally, Raniere will arrive back at his cell – and be able to eat his delicious MDC dinner.
Since Raniere doesn’t shower every day, he may choose to go to sleep right after dinner.
Either way, he’ll be able to dream about doing the exact same routine the next day.
Viva Executive Success!