The New York City Board of Corrections (BOC) has released an updated report regarding the four drug-related deaths and six suicides of inmates in NYC jails and prisons since 2021.
Findings show that those in custody were locked in cells for extended periods of time without anyone checking on them, that officers routinely failed to make their rounds, failed to administer CPR or call in an emergency upon finding people hanging, failed to properly log incidents and failed to get people to legal visits and medical appointments.
The BOC is a jail oversight body that monitors and regulates correctional facilities and often gives the city recommendations according to their findings.
While this Sept. 12 report does not study the six other deaths that occurred within this timeframe, it highlights the issues which have been most prevalent or common to inmate deaths in the past.
After reviewing these deaths, the BOC made 22 recommendations concerning the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the NYC Health + Hospitals’ Correctional Health Services (CHS).
Most of these recommendations concerned how guards and corrections workers needed to change how they communicate with each other as well as how they alert and interact with other city agencies in order to quickly respond to inmate health crises.
So far this year, a total of 13 individuals have died while in NYC jails – most recently Michael Nieves who died on Aug. 30 – which indicates a much higher rate of deaths than last year’s recorded eight.
This report follows a recent visit by elected officials to Rikers Island – a New York City jail complex most recently in headlines for the numerous in-custody deaths – who remarked that the facility’s conditions were improving despite the death toll.
“The first thing I do want to mention is when I came here a year ago, it was simply atrocious,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams following his visit on Aug 30 with City Comptroller Brad Lander and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “It looked like a jail that was on the brink of simple disaster. So I do want to say while I think it’s still not the safest place to be for anyone who’s housed or works there, I do want to say it is demonstrably better than when we were here a year ago.”
Following this report, #HALTsolitary – a campaign to end solitary confinement in New York State – released a statement condemning the DOC.
“We are appalled at the abuse, neglect, and utter disregard for human life demonstrated again and again by the New York City jails system,” said Anisah Sabur of #Haltsolitary on Sept. 12. “Officials must all take immediate action to release people, stop sending people to these deadly jails, end all forms of solitary confinement, and ensure all New Yorkers have access to the care and support they need.”
amNewYork Metro is awaiting comment from City Hall.