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Another person dies at Rikers– 22nd Death in City Jails Under Mayor Adams 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Contact:  Yonah Zeitz, yonah@katalcenter.org | (347) 201-2769

Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter | #CloseRikers #CutShutInvestNY

Another person dies at Rikers– 22nd Death in City Jails Under Mayor Adams 

Death Comes Days After Federal Monitor for Rikers Island Sounds Alarm About Dangerous Conditions in City Jails

Statement by Katal Center 

New York, NY:  Last night, news broke that Joshua Valles, who was incarcerated in the psychiatric unit at Rikers, passed away on May 27, 2023. This is the 22nd death in city jails since Mayor took off and it comes just days after the recent Federal Monitor report which discusses the mishandling of reporting on Mr. Valles’s situation by the Department of Correction.

Statement from Melanie Dominguez, Lead Organizer of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice:  

Here we are again– yet another human being has died in city jails.  Joshua Valles, age 31, held in the most heavily-staffed psychiatric units on Rikers. He’d been jailed on a $10,000 bail since April, awaiting trial. We send our condolences to Mr. Valles’s family. 

This is the 22nd person to die in city jails since  Mayor Eric Adams took office. The conditions in our city’s jail system are horrific and life-threatening for people incarcerated there and those who work there. Rikers is an appalling disaster. This recent death comes a day after the federal monitor issued an alarming new report outlining how the people incarcerated at Rikers are at an ‘imminent risk of harm’ due to the DOC’s mismanagement, outright lack of care, and the administration’s unwillingness to address the longstanding issues plaguing the city’s jail system. And here’s yet another life lost. 

It is disgraceful what is unfolding on Mayor Adams’ watch. And Mayor Adams is working overtime to make it worse and cover up the DOC’s wrongdoing. In this instance, the DOC reported there was ‘no official wrongdoing’ in Mr. Valles’s situation without any substantial evidence and they did not provide the Federal Monitors team enough information or details to assess the situation. This is an absolute scandal and underscores the deep-seated poison within the Department of Correction. It’s costing people their lives. What more will it take for the federal courts to step in? How many more deaths and DOC transgressions will it take for City Council to step in? 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. 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.”

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