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Another Person Dies in DOC Custody – the 2nd Death This Week and the 24th Death in City Jails Under Mayor Adams

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, July 7, 2023

Contact: Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org • 347-201-2769

Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter • #ShutRikers #CloseRikers #CutShutInvestNY

Another Person Dies in DOC Custody – the 2nd Death This Week and the 24th Death in City Jails Under Mayor Adams 

Recent Death Comes Days After New Monitor’s Report Finds Conditions in City Jails Deteriorating with Thousands of Sanitation and City Health Code Violations

Statement by Katal Center 

New York, NY: Last night, news broke that Ricky Howell, who was incarcerated while terminally ill and held in the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward, passed away at age 60. This is the 24th death in New York City jails since Mayor Eric Adams took office and the fifth this year. It comes just three days after Felix Taveras, age 40, died at Rikers after correction officers failed to follow procedures in responding to his medical distress. 

Statement from Melanie Dominguez, Lead Organizer of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “Here we are again – and still: Two human beings have died in DOC custody this week. Ricky Howell was held in the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and his lawyers pleaded for compassionate release. Felix Taveras was held in the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island, awaiting trial. We send our condolences to Mr. Howard’s and Mr. Taveras’s families. 

“Since Mayor Eric Adams took office, 24 people have died in city jails. The conditions in our city’s jail system are horrific and life-threatening for people incarcerated there and those who work there. Violence at Rikers is out of control. The facilities are run down and dilapidated. Ricky Howard’s death comes days after a monitor’s report criticized the city Department of Correction (DOC) for thousands of sanitation and city health code violations, withholding information, and other serious, dangerous problems. The DOC’s mismanagement and outright lack of care are creating deadly conditions in our city jails. 

“New scandals or transgressions are being reported almost daily, further underscoring the pervasive dysfunction within the Department of Correction. DOC leaders and the mayor are unwilling to address the long-standing issues plaguing the jail system. The department is incapable of making the changes on its own. Until Rikers is closed, the federal courts must appoint a receiver to take over and improve conditions for people who are detained or employed there. New Yorkers deserve better. Mayor Adams and the Department of Correction are failing our city’s most vulnerable people and their loved ones. New York must end the violence and reduce the city’s jail population, shut down Rikers, and invest in true public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs.”

####ShutRikers #CloseRikers #CutShutInvestNY

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