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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Calls on Governor and Mayor to Immediately Shut Down Rikers and Release Inmates

Rikers Island entrance (Queens Post)

Sept. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other New York Congress members are calling on both the governor and mayor to immediately shut down the Rikers Island jail complex.

Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez penned a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday demanding that they shut down the jail and release those detained.

“We urgently write to you with concern on the current human rights violations and humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Rikers),” the Congress members wrote. “We strongly believe that those who are detained at Rikers should be immediately released and the facility shut down.”

Their letter follows numerous reports of inhumane conditions on Rikers Island and the death of a detainee on Sunday — who became the 11th inmate fatality at the detention center this year.

“It has become evident that the conditions at Rikers… are deplorable, and nothing short of a humanitarian crisis,” the lawmakers wrote.

Elected officials say a staffing crisis at the Rikers Island detention facility has led to poor oversight, limited medical access for inmates and inhumane conditions.

The average number of correction officers out sick each day more than doubled and the number of unannounced no-shows among the officers more than tripled between July 2020 and July 2021, THE CITY reported.

As a result, guards who do show up to work have been forced to work exhausting double or triple shifts.

The city has filed a lawsuit against the union representing the guards due to the steep rise in unexcused absences. De Blasio is seeking a $1 million fine against the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for every day of excessive absences.

Meanwhile, self-harm incidents — including suicides —among detainees have also spiked since the beginning of the pandemic, according to THE CITY.

In fact, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos said they witnessed an attempted suicide with their own eyes on a visit to the facility on Sept. 13.

The state legislators described appalling conditions they saw at Rikers — such as excessive overcrowding in jail cells and feces and garbage strewn about the ground. They said several people had not received their medications for weeks and inmates were deprived of showers, food and water.

Ocasio-Cortez thanked the two legislators and several others for bringing attention to the issues at the Rikers facilities.

She and her Congressional colleagues noted that the majority of inmates at Rikers are being held as they await their day in court. More than 70 percent are being held pre-trial.

“As of Sept. 16, 2021, over 4,600 of the roughly 6,000 people in DOC custody were being detained pretrial – representing over 76 percent of the system’s population – with nearly 1,500 detained for misdemeanor or non-violent crimes,” they wrote in the letter.

The Congress members said these inmates must be released and that federal funding that the facility receives should be used to support their re-entry into society.

“The current conditions experienced at Rikers are inhumane, unconstitutional, and a public health crisis” they wrote. “We believe federal funds should be used to decarcerate and shut down the facility immediately, as well as provide social, economic, psychological, and physical health support to all those that are released to ensure their safe re-entry into our community.”

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10 Comments

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MRLIC

Why is it understaffed because DeBlasoo wants it closed ??
If Correction Officers do not show up for work can’ t tjey be replaced or fired??? I hesrd on the news DeBlasio has not hired a guard for Rikets in 3 years. AOC and Jamaal Bowman are Dem.Socialists. Who call themselves Progressives. Biwman called police to his Yonkets home during JAN. 6, riots dezpite his BIG DEFUND THE. POLICE. callings. Hypocrite. Ramos is a so
called progressive / Socialist as is Nadler who was in the Trump
Impeachment Russia Hoax
Velazquez is another Dem Socoalist / Progressive. All Democratic Socoalist losers.

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JD

You comment on everything here and can’t read or spell. The article already says that there’s a union and people aren’t showing up to work. You can’t just replace union employees. And even if you could, there’s no demand for a job at Rikers. Why don’t you apply since you have so much free time?

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MRLIC

Sorry about some errors in spelling. I can read and spell very well. Small Keyboard is the problem.I am right on AOC being A Socialist Anti American Loser who needs to go. The No bail reform leaves enough criminals on the street. AOC and her ilk of Socialist Democrats would have No prisons if they had their way. You and she have this nutty depiction of a Democratic Socialist Utopia of no prisons and citizens who are working people live in fear.Of Crime That’s just great. Decent people will prevail over the Socialist Democrats. Even the Corrections Union blames Comrade DeBlasio for nit hiring officers on 3 years. He wanted to close it for a long time. He blames everyone but himself. He ruined this city along with Cuomo and the Albany idiots led by Carl Heastie another Socialist Dem. Loser.
Crime will continue to go up with our Socialist Dem Loser City Council. They just voted 37 out of 51 to let Illegal Immigrants vote in local elections.More lawbreakers that Dem. Socialists love over citizens. The truth is NYC is becoming a 3rd world Dump.. Remember DeBlasio cettified NYC as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. Great move for a city that can’ t afford itself.
Rents too high. Homeless on the rise. Subways stink not safe also. NYC housing has no heatbon winter and is taking city to court on cinditions. Drugstores being robbed right and left if ypu read tecently. District attorneys eho won’ t prosecute
Criminals. Critical Race Theory being pushed on kids and parents against it.
Gifted and Talented trstbscrapped by Comrade DeBlasio. Parents mad also on that move. Temember the No bail Law thst puts criminals back on the street
The same day as their arrest.
NYC is a JOKE
.

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Frank

Try not committing crimes in the first place (and, yes, drag racing, doing drugs, and lighting the park on fire with fireworks are all illegal). If you don’t want to go to Rikers, don’t break the law or associate with those that do. Very simple.

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JD

Did you see that 76% of people at Rikers haven’t had a trial? Do you think everyone who ends up in court is guilty? I guess we can replace courts with Judge Dredd.

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Merman

If the woke liberals want to turn America into a third world country then what’s the problem with a legal system that is also akin to that of a third world country? Lock em up until proven innocent. JD is clueless. NEXT!

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Merman

Ya that sounds like a great plan. Release thousands of criminals into the general public because their living conditions in PRISON are not as nice as a middle-class American home! lol. Aoc has proven she is useless in the job and disconnected from reality. Next please!

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