FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 22, 2024
Contact: Yonah Zeitz, firstname.lastname@example.org • 347-201-2769
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2nd Death at Rikers Island Jail Complex in a Few Weeks
City Jails Remain Death Trap Under Mayor Adams
Statement by the Katal Center
New York, NY: On Saturday, news broke that Manual Luna, age 30, died while being detained at Rikers. This is the second death in New York City jails in January and at least the 30th since Mayor Eric Adams took office. The death comes as there are growing calls for the federal courts to appoint a receiver to improve conditions and save lives until the notorious Rikers Island Jail Complex is shut down once and for all.
Statement from Melanie Dominguez, Lead Organizer of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice: “It is heartbreaking to hear that over the weekend yet another person passed away at Rikers, the second death this month alone. We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Luna’s family and loved ones. Our members, many of whom have been detained at Rikers or have loved ones at Rikers, are feeling immense pain and frustration from the horrors unfolding at Rikers Island.
When Mayor Adams took office, the City was on track to fulfill its commitment to close Rikers. But from day one, Adams has done everything in his power to keep Rikers open and in the process, he’s exacerbated the horrific problems there. Mayor Adams has worked to increase the jail population through regressive policing and slashing the budgets of alternatives to incarceration programs. He has cut essential re-entry programs at Rikers for people in city jails coming home. He’s blocked or otherwise sought to hinder oversight and transparency efforts by both the city and federal watchdogs. The list goes on and on. And now, under this mayor, at least 30 people have died in city jails.
The mayor even opposes common sense proposals to improve safety. Last week, the Mayor vetoed two reform measures passed by City Council that would make our city safer. One, the How Many Stops Act, would bring greater transparency to policing practices and the other, the Halt Solitary Act, to end the tortuous practice of solitary confinement within city jails.
Enough is enough. Our communities deserve safety and justice. We demand immediate action to save lives. We urge the City Council to override the Mayor’s vetoes and swiftly reissue and pass the resolution introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, which calls for a federal receiver to improve conditions until Rikers is shut down. As the Mayor gears up to give his State of the City address on Wednesday, it is clear what he must do: cut the number of people jailed in NYC, shut down Rikers, and invest in real public safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs. Anything short of this will continue putting New Yorkers at immediate risk of death.”