You are reading

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Calls on Governor and Mayor to Immediately Shut Down Rikers and Release Inmates

Rikers Island entrance (Queens Post)

Sept. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other New York Congress members are calling on both the governor and mayor to immediately shut down the Rikers Island jail complex.

Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez penned a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday demanding that they shut down the jail and release those detained.

“We urgently write to you with concern on the current human rights violations and humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Rikers),” the Congress members wrote. “We strongly believe that those who are detained at Rikers should be immediately released and the facility shut down.”

Their letter follows numerous reports of inhumane conditions on Rikers Island and the death of a detainee on Sunday — who became the 11th inmate fatality at the detention center this year.

“It has become evident that the conditions at Rikers… are deplorable, and nothing short of a humanitarian crisis,” the lawmakers wrote.

Elected officials say a staffing crisis at the Rikers Island detention facility has led to poor oversight, limited medical access for inmates and inhumane conditions.

The average number of correction officers out sick each day more than doubled and the number of unannounced no-shows among the officers more than tripled between July 2020 and July 2021, THE CITY reported.

As a result, guards who do show up to work have been forced to work exhausting double or triple shifts.

The city has filed a lawsuit against the union representing the guards due to the steep rise in unexcused absences. De Blasio is seeking a $1 million fine against the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for every day of excessive absences.

Meanwhile, self-harm incidents — including suicides —among detainees have also spiked since the beginning of the pandemic, according to THE CITY.

In fact, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos said they witnessed an attempted suicide with their own eyes on a visit to the facility on Sept. 13.

The state legislators described appalling conditions they saw at Rikers — such as excessive overcrowding in jail cells and feces and garbage strewn about the ground. They said several people had not received their medications for weeks and inmates were deprived of showers, food and water.

Ocasio-Cortez thanked the two legislators and several others for bringing attention to the issues at the Rikers facilities.

She and her Congressional colleagues noted that the majority of inmates at Rikers are being held as they await their day in court. More than 70 percent are being held pre-trial.

“As of Sept. 16, 2021, over 4,600 of the roughly 6,000 people in DOC custody were being detained pretrial – representing over 76 percent of the system’s population – with nearly 1,500 detained for misdemeanor or non-violent crimes,” they wrote in the letter.

The Congress members said these inmates must be released and that federal funding that the facility receives should be used to support their re-entry into society.

“The current conditions experienced at Rikers are inhumane, unconstitutional, and a public health crisis” they wrote. “We believe federal funds should be used to decarcerate and shut down the facility immediately, as well as provide social, economic, psychological, and physical health support to all those that are released to ensure their safe re-entry into our community.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Urgent manhunt underway for ‘animal’ who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in Flushing park on Thursday: NYPD

The NYPD announced a $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of a Hispanic man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in a wooded area of Kissena Corridor Park on Thursday afternoon.

More than sixty investigators were at the crime scene late into the night. During a press briefing by NYPD brass on Friday, Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said that the manhunt was expanded city-wide and that the department would spare no expense until the suspect was apprehended.

Southeast Queens man arraigned on weapons charges after cops search his ‘ghost car’ near LaGuardia Airport: DA

A Hollis man was criminally charged after police discovered a cache of weapons in his vehicle during a traffic stop. He was pulled over for driving a “ghost car” with obscured license plates in East Elmhurst near LaGuardia Airport during the early morning hours of June 12.

Judd Sanson, 27, of Jamaica Avenue, was ordered held without bail after he was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday afternoon on a criminal complaint charging him with multiple counts of weapons possession, unlawful possession of pistol or revolver ammunition, and unlawful use of a police uniform or emblem and other crimes after the arsenal was found in his SUV.

Man sought for raping 13-year-old girl in Flushing park in broad daylight Thursday: NYPD

An urgent manhunt is underway in Northeast Queens after a Hispanic man allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint in Kissena Corridor Park in broad daylight on Thursday afternoon.

Police from the 109th Precinct in Flushing reported that the youngster was with a 13-year-old boy in the park near Kalmia Avenue and Colden Street at around 3:30 p.m. when a stranger approached and threatened them with a knife, forcing them both into a wooded section where he tied them up. The perpetrator proceeded to forcibly remove their cell phones before sexually assaulting the girl, police said, adding that he fled in an unknown direction.