The two federal jails in the city are feeling the effects of the partial government shutdown.

For nearly two weeks so-called social visits—relatives meeting prisoners—have been canceled because of staff shortages.

Defense lawyers blame that on short staffing.

“These are people who've not yet been convicted of a crime. They're entitled to meet with their family members," said David Patton, the head of the Federal Defender office in New York.

Some inmates at the high-security Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan have staged a protest.

"Right now there's a unit at the MCC here in Manhattan that's begun a hunger strike over the issue of family visitation," said Patton.

MCC is the most high-profile detention center in the federal system. It has nearly 800 detainees, including accused Mexican drug lord El Chapo and alleged terrorists.

But most of the detainees are anonymous.

"A lot of the inmates there are there on immigration case, on drug cases on cases that don't look all that different from a typical state court case," Patton said.

The government shutdown has aggravated some existing staffing problems at the lockups. At MCC, recreation time for inmates already had been cut and some inmates were having difficulty seeing doctors.

According to a court transcript, a drug defendant who requires medical treatment has been released on bond because the shutdown has made it more difficult for him to be given his medication.

Another problem: Defense attorneys were barred from visiting clients at MCC for four consecutive days.

And at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which holds 1,600 detainees, no such visits were allowed for seven days.

Patton said that has disrupted the administration of justice.

"We're not able to properly prepare our cases if we can't meet with our clients," he said.

On Tuesday, those attorney-client visits were being held.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency is working on allowing the family visits to resume, too.

Just when that will be remains unclear.