By: Cailin Loesch via Patch.com
NEW YORK CITY, NY — A man in Rikers Island died Tuesday morning, becoming the eighth New Yorker to die in city jail custody this year, advocates said.
Donny Ubiera, 33, died inside the jail’s George R. Vierno Center, according to a statement from The Legal Aid Society.
Advocates insisted that Ubiera’s family deserves immediate answers from Department of Correction officials and jail medical staff on what led to his death, writing that “all too often, our client’s loved ones are deprived of even the most basic information following the passing of a relative.”
In a statement shared with Patch, the Department of Correction said that Ubiera was found unresponsive in his cell at around 5:15 a.m. Tuesday.
“He received immediate medical care but was pronounced dead at approximately 5:51 a.m., the statement continued. “The cause of death is unknown at this time and will be determined by the Medical Examiner. Mr. Ubiera had been in DOC custody since March 29, 2023. Next of kin has been notified. All notifications have been made to the federal monitor, the state Attorney General, the Department of Investigation, the Board of Correction, the State Commission of Correction, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”
Advocates with The Legal Aid Society have been vocal about what they describe as “staff and supervisors’ chronic failure to perform basic custodial duties” that could lead to the death of inmates at correctional facilities.
Information relating to these allegations has been made available in federal monitor reports, the society noted.
“Close scrutiny should be paid to whether correctional staff and supervisors were actively engaged in supervising the housing area and conducting required tours,” the society wrote in its statement. ” … We call for a sweeping investigation and on DOC to inform the family and counsel of any findings at each step in the process.”
Three deaths were reported at Rikers in July alone.
“It’s sickening,” Melanie Dominguez, lead organizer of the Katal Center for Equity, Health, and Justice, told Patch in July. “The conditions in the city’s jail system are horrific and life-threatening.”
Activists and attorneys have been urging federal judge Laura Taylor Swain to appoint a receiver — an independent manager — to take over the city jails amid several reports revealing the security and health issues that many have labeled a “humanitarian crisis.”
Also in July, a report by a court-appointed monitor detailed the gruesome sanitary conditions at Rikers Island this year.