Conditions at Rikers Island take center stage at state Assembly hearing
Conditions at Rikers Island took center stage Friday at a state Assembly public hearing over growing concerns of a humanitarian crisis.
Following weeks of tours by elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Correction commissioner addressed changes that have already been made and the improvements that are still necessary.
Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi acknowledged the 12 deaths in DOC custody this year, saying that he's committed to fixing the problems, not hiding them. Schiraldi says there is now a new intake facility, which cuts the process to under 24 hours.
The commissioner says about 500 inmates have also been released to alleviate the crowding.
Schiraldi says staffing remains an issue with approximately one-third of officers at Rikers unable to work, resulting in more than 30 triple shifts a day.
Legal and advocacy groups as well as loved ones of those incarcerated also spoke at the hearing about how the changes are not enough. They are calling for bail reform reinstatement and for people at Rikers to be treated with humanity.