By: ABC7 News staff via ABC7NY
RIKERS ISLAND (WABC) — The federal monitor for Rikers Island delivered a stinging rebuke of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina in court Tuesday over alleged violent and negligent treatment of incarcerated people by jail staff.
Meanwhile, people directly impacted by Rikers gather at Foley Square ahead of the federal court conference to support a federal takeover of the city’s jails and to demand Mayor Adams shut down Rikers once and for all.
“The people are being treated in a way where we treat animals when you’re about to kill ’em or they’re for slaughter,” said Henry Robinson who was previously incarcerated.
In reports filed by the federal monitor last week, he accused the department of covering up severe incidents of violence in city jails.
Adding that he doesn’t believe the department when it reports there were only three deaths in custody last year.
The monitor pointed to one case in May when a man was paralyzed from the neck down after jail staff tackled him to the ground.
At least 38 people have died at Rikers in the past three years.
At the hearing, the judge cracked the door to a federal takeover and said her faith in the city’s commitment to complying with Rikers monitorship has been shaken.
A statement that could imply she’s inching closer to the Legal Aid Society’s position.
“We think the judge appreciated the gravity of the harm and the seriousness of the problems on Rikers Island,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas from the Legal Aid Society.
Commissioner Molina released a statement that read:
“We have done tremendous work over the last 18 months to stabilize and reform a department that was previously abandoned. This administration is committed to doing everything it can to continue that reform and to enhance and improve operations and safety for the people that work in our jails and those placed in our custody.”
Meanwhile Mayor Eric Adams continues to stand by Molina.
“I don’t know why people think the federal prison system is successful,” Adams said. “I’m curious that people believe the federal prison system is the model for prison systems. Because I don’t hear that. I hear just the opposite.”
“The mayor doesn’t understand what a federal receiver is,” Werlwas said. “It’s not a federal bureau of prisons running the New York City jails. It is a change in leadership, and the entity responsible to the court for implementing certain court orders.”