Rikers Island

New York City Council Proposes Taxpayers Bail Some Inmates Out of Jails

Correction: An earlier version of this post placed the responsibility for changing bail laws at the feet of the New York City Council. In fact, bail laws are set by the State of New York, and would have to be changed by state legislators. I sincerely regret this error and have amended the post accordingly. At the same time, I would like to reaffirm my central point that a bail fund (while well intentioned) is not bail reform. It may provide some relief to a subset of prisoners, but the [Continue reading]

New York City Enters Settlement With Feds Over Rikers Island Brutality

New York City and the Department of Justice settled a 2012 class action lawsuit this week brought by the Legal Aid Society (Nunez v City of New York), alleging rampant inmate abuse on Rikers Island. The Nunez lawsuit is just one of many to have detailed the horrific conditions facing inmates in NYC jails and underscores the pervasive brutality and impunity with which the city’s corrections officers have traditionally operated. In December of last year, Mayor Bill De Blasio’s [Continue reading]

Against Reform: Beyond Rikers Island

There are a couple of things I want to say about the 10 reform bills proposed in the NYC Council this week targeting the Department of Corrections. First, as I mentioned in my rundown, even if these bills pass, they will be meaningless without rigorous enforcement and oversight by the council. Much of the problem here is not that the city lacks regulations over its jails — it’s that the Department of Corrections seems to follow its own rules and break theirs with impunity. For [Continue reading]

New York City Council Introduces 10 Bills to Reform Rikers Island

Update: A few thoughts on this reform package. This week, New York City Council members introduced 10 bills outlining various reforms to the Department of Correction and city jails. Most of the proposals are focused on capturing data and increasing transparency, while others involve measures like crisis intervention programming and the establishment of an inmate “Bill of Rights.” The language and formatting used in these bills can be difficult to read, but this stuff is important, [Continue reading]

Corizon Health Staff on Rikers Island File Federal Labor Complaint Over Dangerous Work Environment

According to the NY Daily News, a group of medical staffers from New York City jail medical contractor Corizon Health Services filed a federal labor complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on April 11th for Corizon’s failure to protect them from inmate assaults. From the Daily News: The staffers charge that the nation’s largest jail health care provider repeatedly failed to protect them from dangerous inmates who were never properly restrained or labeled [Continue reading]

Report: Rikers Island Health Staff Shouldn’t Participate in Solitary Confinement Placement Process

The Associated Press got a sneak preview of a new study that found the medical ethics of healthcare workers on Rikers Island are seriously compromised — especially when they are involved in placing inmates in solitary confinement: The two-year study at New York’s sprawling Rikers Island jail complex concluded with a bold recommendation to remove health workers entirely from the most contentious issue they face — whether to put an inmate in solitary. That’s because many [Continue reading]

New solitary confinement unit plagued by old problems on Rikers Island

At the beginning of March, New York City’s Board of Correction released a preliminary report on Rikers Island’s controversial new isolation facility, the Enhanced Supervision Housing Unit (ESHU). The $14.8 million ESHU was proposed to house 250 of Rikers’ so-called “most dangerous” inmates– a small minority of the prison population that officials claim is responsible for the majority of inmate violence. Amid federal, state and municipal investigations and a [Continue reading]

New wrongful death lawsuit raises more questions about coming Rikers Island reforms

On February 11th, the Associated Press reported that the mother of deceased Rikers Island inmate Quannell Offley was suing New York City for her son’s wrongful death. The lawsuit is one of many facing the city over Rikers Island and comes after months of reports detailing abuse and neglect by the city’s prison staff. According to the lawsuit, Offley told prison guards on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill himself after being placed in solitary confinement. His final threat [Continue reading]

Report: Corizon’s “flagrantly inadequate, substandard and dangerous” care killed Rikers prisoner Bradley Ballard

The New York State Commission on Correction released a new report this week, detailing the findings from its investigation into the horrific and preventable death of mentally ill black inmate, Bradley Ballard. Ballard was left in his cell for six days straight in September, 2013. Guards shut the water off to his cell for over four days, and not once during that time was he treated for his schizophrenia and diabetes. On the rare occasion that he was seen by a medical worker, their talks [Continue reading]
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