NYC DOC withholding records on violence against developmentally disabled juvenile inmate: lawsuit


A lawsuit filed on March 12th in the eastern district of New York claims that the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) withheld important records from a federally-mandated disability advocate after they learned guards had brutally attacked a developmentally disabled juvenile inmate at the Robert N. Davoren Complex on Rikers Island.

Disability Rights New York is suing the Department of Corrections for records on a young inmate known only as “AB,” who told the group during a monitoring visit that he was “physically assaulted by corrections staff on or about December 9, 2014.”

As the lawsuit explains:

A.B. reported to DRNY that, on or about December 9, 2014, a corrections officer told A.B. that he was speaking disrespectfully.

A.B. reported to DRNY that he was led to a room, and he was punched and kicked by one or more corrections officers.

A.B. reported to DRNY that he was seen by medical staff at RNDC and was transferred to Elmhurst Hospital for evaluation and treatment of injuries to his face and elbow, and was hospitalized overnight.

DRNY requested AB’s medical records, security camera footage and incident reports from the Depts. of Health and Mental Hygeine (DOHMH) and DOC, the complaint states. DOHMH promptly provided the documents, but the DOC allegedly refused, claiming they could not be released while an internal investigation was still ongoing.

As DRNY notes, “neither federal nor state law prohibited DRNY’s access to the requested documents during the pendency of a DOI investigation.” The group is seeking the complete, un-redacted documents it requested and a court order for the DOC to provide all future documents in a timely fashion.

Rikers Island and the city’s Department of Correction have come under intense pressure in recent months to end the violent and abusive conditions facing inmates — particularly juveniles and those with mental and developmental disabilities. The DOC has not yet been served with the complaint and did not respond to requests for comment by publication. I will update the post if they respond. Attorneys for DRNY declined to comment.

Brian Sonenstein
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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein is a Berkeley-based writer, activist and former Campaign Director and Associate Publisher for Learn more at
Brian Sonenstein
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  1. Such problems have very deep roots in our society and I don’t even know what needs to be done in order to fully resolve it.

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