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Calls for federal takeover of NYC’s Rikers Island continue, Mayor Adams opposes the move

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By: Sonia Rincon via ABC7NY

NEW YORK (WABC) — Is the federal takeover of New York City’s troubled Rikers Island jail imminent? Many signs are pointing to that conclusion, and it could come soon.

Chants of “shut down Rikers” drowned out Mayor Eric Adams’ press conference on Thursday.

“I like that. That chorus gives me energy,” he said.

The response to the growing chorus of calls for Rikers to be placed in a federal receivership came Thursday from Adams’ Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina, making the case to keep control of the beleaguered jail with the city.

“When we inherited this department in January of 2022, it was on the brink of collapse,” he said. “We have lowered violence by double digits. We have decreased staffing absenteeism by over 70%. We have stabilized the city’s jail system.”

But Yonah Zeitz of Katal Center for Equity, Health and Justice, says that’s “fundamentally untrue.”

The nonprofit, which was part of that chorus, points to the federal monitor that’s been keeping tabs on Rikers for the last eight years, now recommending the administration be held in contempt for failing to deliver change.

The federal monitor has not said if they will call for an outside authority. That will ultimately be up to a judge.

“In April, the federal monitor put out a scathing report basically saying that people are incarcerated at Rikers and the staff on a daily basis are at imminent risk of harm and that the violence has actually increased,” Zeitz said.

Six deaths have been reported at Rikers this year so far, with the latest taking place over the past weekend.

But Mayor Adams had a different takeaway from the same report, quoting parts of it on Tuesday that he said were encouraging.

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