Activists call for quick closure of Rikers after 1st death this year

Chima Williams is the first person to die on Rikers Island this year. In the wake of his death, activists are again calling for the closure of the jail.
The Department of Correction says the 43-year-old collapsed while playing basketball with other inmates. He later died. A DOC spokesperson says medics and staff gave proper medical care for someone suffering cardiac arrest and gave him naloxone, which is a drug for overdose reversal.
Today in Lower Manhattan, activists from groups HALT Solitary and Jails Action Coalition New York City say the poor care and conditions in the jail are to blame for the death of Williams and others.
"Create a space and a place where people who make mistakes, get in trouble, have mental illness can heal and get healthy, not be abused and die. It shouldn't be a place where people go to die," said HALT Solitary activist Marvin Wade. Wade just finished a nearly 20-year sentence.
The Board of Correction held a meeting today. During the public comment period, several people spoke of Williams' death along with other issues at Rikers.
In 2017, the city committed to closing the jail - with plans to disperse its population into four borough-based jails. By law, Rikers must close by August 2027.