Faith leaders, advocates host vigil for lives lost at Rikers Island

Religious leaders from different faiths and decarceration advocates joined together for a vigil commemorating the lives lost at Rikers Island.
This comes on the three-year anniversary of the City Council’s vote to shut down the city jail facility by 2026, as the attendees gathered outside of Gracie Mansion.
One speaker, who spent almost two years at Rikers Island before becoming an activist, describes the situation as playing Russian Roulette with human lives.
“For some… people are taking their own lives, it’s so inhumane,” said Darren Mack, co-director of the Freedom Agenda.
“The conditions of people at Rikers are unspeakable,” said Rabbi Barat Ellman, one of many faith leaders present for the vigil. “Sleeping next to their feces, people who are not able to get changes of clothing, people that are stuck in showers that are serving as solitary confinement spaces.”
According to the Department of Corrections, Rikers Island has had 14 deaths occur at their facility this year to date, surpassing last year’s total death toll. Because of this, activists are calling for the jail’s population to decrease and for conditions to improve.