Protesters gather in Manhattan demanding closure of Rikers Island
After a thirteenth Rikers Island inmate died last month, activists are doubling down on their calls on the city to close the long-controversial jail complex.
Advocates say the newly published report from the Board of Correction provides an even clearer look into the problems at the facility.
Michael Nieves was 40 years old when he died while in custody at Rikers Island in August. He’s the 13th person held at the infamous jail this year to die — a number not far from the 16 people who died in 2021, which was the most in eight years.
Activists rallied outside of the Board of Correction today saying, once again, the city should shut the jail down. They raised concerns about the mental health of people incarcerated there.
The Board of Correction released a new study Monday that found officers on multiple occasions didn’t intervene when a person tried to hurt themselves.
That’s what organizers believe happened to Michael Nieves. A New York Times report says that officers looked on for almost 10 minutes after Nieves slit his throat with a razor. The Department of Correction has not confirmed that information.
One Bronx organizer who was held at Rikers in the 1990s tells News 12 many of the people who died in custody had not even been convicted yet of the crime for which they were jailed.
Protesters were expected to testify before the Board of Correction today at a public hearing
The Department of Corrections' commissioner Louis Molina provided the following statement:
“We are committed to operating Enhanced Supervision Housing (ESH) and other less restrictive housing options in compliance with HALT Act requirements to safely house individuals who have committed violent acts. By using sound correctional practices and strategies we are transforming our facilities into a safe and humane jail system.”
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams told News 12 that she supports ending solitary confinement, which is one of the activists' goals. She also says the City Council plans to pass a law restricting the practice.