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Federal Monitor for Rikers Island Sounds Alarm in Scandalous New Report 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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

Follow on Twitter @KatalCenter | #CloseRikers #CutShutInvestNY

Federal Monitor for Rikers Island Sounds Alarm in Scandalous New Report 

Federal Monitor: Incarcerated People Are In Danger to Due the Horrific Conditions in City Jails, DOC Management Cannot Be Trusted 

Statement by Katal Center 

New York, NY:  On Friday, the Federal Monitor assigned to Rikers Island issued a new scathing report, sounding the alarm about the mishandling of five serious and disturbing incidents in city jails this month by the scandal-plagued Department of Correction. 

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

“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. It is shameful what is unfolding on Mayor Adams’ watch. And Mayor Adams is working overtime to make it worse. On Friday, we confronted the Mayor about the 21 people who have died in city jails since he took office and the urgent need to shut down the notorious Rikers Island jail complex. Later that same day, 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. 

“Incarcerated people are in danger. They are being harmed, sometimes severely. The monitor shared a story of someone who was paralyzed after being beaten by correctional officers. People are dying. What more will it take for the federal courts to step in? 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. And the City Council must take immediate action to hold this mayor accountable to cut jail populations and correctional budgets, shut down the jail complex, and invest in real community safety: housing, health care, education, and jobs. 

New Yorkers deserve safety and justice, not criminalization and the violence of Rikers.”

Background: 

Support for a federal receiver is growing. A receiver would be appointed by the federal court to take over control of Rikers (find background about federal receivership from THE CITY, the Brennan Center, and from Vital City). After the release of the latest scathing report by the federal monitor, the NYC Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams, came out in support of a federal receiver. Williams became the 2nd citywide elected official to call for receivership, joining Comptroller Brad Lander, who called for receivership in October of 2022. The former commissioner of the NYC Department of Correction, Vincent Schiraldi, supports a federal receiver and said that it may be “impossible to resolve the chaos and violence of Rikers” without one.  

Ten City Council members have called for a federal receiver: Lincoln Restler, Keith Powers, Shekar Krishnan, Carmen De La Rosa, Crystal Hudson, Amanda Farías, Chi Ossé, Erik Bottcher, Mercedes Narcisse, and Pierina Sanchez. These council member are joined by five state senators who have endorsed the call for a receiver and sent a letter to federal Chief Judge Swain asking the Southern District to appoint a Receiver to oversee Rikers: Sen. Julia Salazar, Sen. Jabari Brisport, Sen. Brad Hoylman, Sen. Jessica Ramos, and Sen. Gustavo River (they were joined by then-state senator Alessandra Biaggi, who has since resigned). Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest has also made calls for a receiver. And dozens of community groups have endorsed the call for a federal receiver.

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