I am going to only post this, and not ruin the good news with depressing facts about America and prisons overall. That’ll be another post. 🙂
After years of abhorrent conditions and abuses, New York City will shut down the notoriously troubled Rikers Island jail.
“New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday. “It will take many years. It will take many tough decisions along the way. But it will happen.”
The details of what will come to replace Rikers Island are still unclear. As the New York Times reported, a commission previously recommended that the jail be broken up into smaller jails located in each of the city’s five boroughs.
De Blasio was previously skeptical
of shutting it down, but it seems like public pressure to do something about the jail — and perhaps a looming reelection campaign this year — pushed him to change his mind.
Rikers Island is notoriously awful
Rikers Island has earned a national reputation for its terrible conditions, with horror stories regularly coming out.
One such story was that of Kalief Browder, who killed himself in 2015, after his release. He spent three years in the facility even though he was never convicted of the robbery he was wrongly accused of at the age of 16. He claimed he spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement, and he attempted suicide at least six times while at the jail. “I didn’t get to go to prom, graduation, nothing,” Browder told New York City’s ABC 7. “I’m never going to get those years back. Never.”
A New York Times article headlined “Rikers: Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality in Jail” detailed several other examples of abuse at the jail. In one case, officers reacted to an inmate’s suicide attempt by beating him:
” After being arrested on a misdemeanor charge following a family dispute last year, Jose Bautista was unable to post $250 bail and ended up in a jail cell on Rikers Island.
A few days later, he tore his underwear, looped it around his neck and tried to hang himself from the cell’s highest bar. Four correction officers rushed in and cut him down. But instead of notifying medical personnel, they handcuffed Mr. Bautista, forced him to lie face down on the cell floor and began punching him with such force, according to New York City investigators, that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery. “
De Blasio and other city officials had worked to try to fix the jail facility. But the pace of change was slow, and the jail could never shake its reputation as a place of historical brutality. Now Rikers Island is closing down, affecting the roughly 9,000 inmates held there on a daily basis.
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