NEW YORK - Protesters gathered in Queens Friday to call for Rikers Island to be shut down.
At least a dozen people were arrested outside the entrance of the city jail during a sit-in demonstration. Protesters say there is ongoing abuse of inmates and corruption behind the iron gates.
In a response, the mayor's office says the city's Department of Corrections "is undertaking dramatic reforms to create a safer and more secure jail, including ending punitive segregation for inmates 21 and under and separating the most violent inmates, and tripling the number of security cameras on the island."
Protesters claim there has been promises of reforms in the past with very few improvements. They point to the case of Kalief Browder, who was held on Rikers Island for three years without a trial. His alleged abuse was captured on surveillance video and obtained by the New Yorker magazine. The 22-year-old committed suicide after his release.
"There are 14,000 people in this prison. Most of them are here because they can't post bond. This is an evil that must stop," said protester Steven Phelps.
Protesters say they will stage another sit-in Saturday in Lower Manhattan in a push to shut down the city largest jail system.