For the fourth time this year, an inmate on Rikers Island has died in custody — apparently just two days after being sent there.
Dashawn Carter, 25, died while in custody at the Anna M. Kross Center at around 5:08 p.m. on May 7. According to the Department of Corrections, the cause of his death is unknown and under investigation.
Carter’s body was transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The Corrections Department said Carter only entered into their custody on May 5, after he was arrested on charges of third-degree burglary and first-degree robbery.
Yet the NYPD, when contacted by amNewYork Metro, did not have any record of Carter being arrested on May 5 for such charges. The NYPD confirmed information on the state court system’s WebCrims database which notes that Carter had been previously arrested in Feb. 4, 2021 on an assault indictment, and had been held in custody since then.
amNewYork Metro reached out to the Corrections Department for clarification of the record, and is awaiting a response.
“Any death in custody is a tragic event and an impactful loss,” said Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina in a statement. “We are truly heartbroken for this person’s family and loved ones and we wish to express our deepest condolences. As with all deaths in custody, we will work with our partner agencies on an immediate and full investigation.”
Carter is the fourth incarcerated individual to die on Rikers Island this year. Last year, the facility saw no fewer than 16 inmate deaths amid calls from criminal justice advocates and elected officials to shut the facility down over decrepit conditions and ongoing violence endangering both the incarcerated and corrections officers alike.
The latest death occurred just a day after Mayor Eric Adams visited Rikers Island and met with corrections staff, according to the Daily News. Citing a spokesperson for the mayor, the Daily News reported that Adams did not meet with any inmates, nor did he tour jail facilities there.
In an April 21 statement, Adams sounded confident that Rikers Island had been turning a corner after dealing with “historic challenges, including deliberate disinvestment in the jail complex, an ongoing COVID-19 crisis and huge staffing challenges.”
“Since Commissioner Molina assumed office, in conjunction with the federal monitor, we’ve seen reductions in use of force and assaults on staff, increased searches for weapons and contraband, and sick leave that has dropped to levels not seen since before last summer’s horrendous shortages,” the mayor said in the statement. “Fixing Rikers is critically important, a moral imperative, and we need to get it right. But to do that, we need the opportunity to implement our plan. These are generational challenges, deeply ingrained, and no administration can solve them in less than four months. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the federal monitor and all other stakeholders.”
Still, Judge Laura Taylor Swain, the federal monitor appointed to oversee Rikers Island, has expressed dissatisfaction with progress of improving conditions at the facility. According to WABC-TV, she has threatened a potential federal takeover of Rikers Island if the city does not present a satisfactory plan of action this month.
Meanwhile, the state Attorney General’s office and the city’s Department of Investigation are now examining Carter’s death, along with all others that occur in custody, the Corrections Department reported.