Advocates rally to demand closure to Rikers Island after recent death of inmate

The Department of Correction reported the third death to take place in Rikers Island custody this year on Monday.

News 12 Staff

Jun 1, 2023, 9:41 PM

Updated 362 days ago

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Advocacy groups and concerned New Yorkers joined together outside of City Hall on Thursday to call on Mayor Eric Adams to shut down Rikers Island for the safety of inmates and New Yorkers.  
On Monday, the Department of Correction reported that 31-year-old Joshua Valles passed away at Elmhurst Hospital after being compassionately released from Rikers Island five days prior. This comes after the DOC confirmed that 52-year-old Rubu Zhao died in custody at Rikers three weeks ago.
Advocates are saying they’ve had enough with the poor conditions and lack of transparency at the facility and are calling for the closure to happen as soon as possible before more people die.  
“If somebody dies in the custody of the Department of Correction or somebody dies in a hospital after being transported from the custody of the Department of Correction, then they have a legal obligation to inform the City Council and the public and the media within 24 hours of that person’s death,” said Stan German, executive director of the NY County Defender Services.  
NY County Defender Services is calling on the City Council to make reporting these deaths in custody part of the law, since they say the DOC hasn’t reported the most recent deaths and doesn’t plan to in the future.  
News 12 has reached out to the mayor’s office and the Department of Correction for comment and clarification and is awaiting responses.  


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