By; Randall via Asamnews.com
Authorities at Rikers Island say an inmate identified as Rubu Zhao jumped to his death this weekend at the New York City jail, reports the Daily News.
The 52-year-old accused murderer is the 37th detainee to die at the facility since early 2021.
“I am saddened by the circumstances that led to Mr. Zhao’s passing and I offer my condolences to his family,” Commissioner Louis Molina said, reported the New York Post. “The health and safety of everyone in our custody is a top priority, and a full investigation is underway to determine how this unfortunate incident occurred.”
Zhao had been detained in the PACE mental health unit in the jail, but had not been under suicide watch.
“What’s happening at Rikers is a horrendous, nonstop disaster,” said Gabriel Sayegh, co-executive director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health and Justice, according to PIX11. “Mayor (Eric) Adams is working overtime to make it worse. Mr. Zhao was the 21st person to die in New York City jails under Mayor Adams. If Adams has his way, Rikers will remain open forever and the city’s entire social safety net will be dismantled.”
Rikers has been plagued by overcrowding and gang violence. The goal is to close it by 2027 and replace it with four jails throughout the city including Manhattan Chinatown.
That large multi-story highrise has been widely opposed in New York’s Chinatown. Area businesses fear the traffic caused by the so-called mega jail will scare away customers and residents say their neighborhood already houses numerous homeless centers and has felt the brunt of what they consider unwelcomed social services.
By law, Rikers must be closed by 2027 and replaced by the four borough jails, but there are already questions about whether that timeline can be met, City and State reports.