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Judge orders Rikers Island safe from federal takeover, for now

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By: Ayanna Harry via PIX11

NEW YORK (PIX11) — A judge stopped short of ordering a federal takeover of Rikers Island after a court hearing Thursday afternoon.

Judge Laura Swain said she believes people detained on Rikers Island are at grave risk of immediate harm. The Judge agreed to continue hearing arguments in favor of placing the jail in the control of a federal receiver, but the judge also noted she hasn’t given up hope that the city can still turn the jail around. Man in custody uses bed sheets, towels to escape Mount Sinai Beth Israel: NYPD

During Thursday’s hearing, several groups argued the administration of Mayor Eric Adams hasn’t done enough to turn around the troubled jail, citing drug use and violence. 

The federal monitor that oversees Rikers described conditions during recent visits including people escaping their cells and officers looking the other way during assaults. The federal monitoring team noted on a recent visit they found marijuana, Prozac, Ambien, mail soaked in fentanyl, and mail soaked in cocaine. 

“Since the Mayor took office there’s been 26 people that have died in New York City jails,” Melanie Dominguez of The Katal Center said.

During the hearing Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina insisted his team is improving the jail after decades of mismanagement.

“Things are significantly better than the apex of this crisis,” Molina told the judge. “That is undeniable.

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