Rikers Island detainee dies, seventh death in NYC custody this year
New York City’s Department of Correction have said an inmate at Rikers Island died on Monday, marking the seventh in-custody death at the troubled jail system this year.
The individual, who has yet to be publicly identified, died around 1:30 a.m. at the George R. Vierno Center, one of several facilities on Rikers, the DOC said.
Further details about the death weren’t immediately released but a jailhouse source said two cans of Narcan, which are used to reverse opioid overdoses, were used on the detainee before he died.
Two detainees have already died from apparent opioid overdoses so far this year and a third committed suicide.
A Board of Correction probe found staffing issues contributed to three additional deaths earlier this year.
The DOC has been reeling from a surge in violence and a staffing crisis.
DOC Commissioner Louis Molina on Friday suddenly closed the Otis Bantum Correctional Center after the BOC revealed squalid and unsafe conditions had returned to the jail’s intake unit, The Post reported.
Another jailhouse source called the situation on Rikers “dire.”
“It’s just a matter of time before someone dies again,” the source said. “It’s only going to get worse.”
Freedom Agenda, an advocacy group working to close Rikers, lambasted the DOC for the seventh death in less than six months.
“As the Department of Correction generates plans to create plans, New Yorkers continue to suffer and die in their custody,” Freedom Agenda’s co-founder Darren Mack said in a statement.
“Rikers should have closed long ago, and by now, judges, prosecutors, and all elected officials know that no one is safe there. We need immediate decarceration, like the effort we saw at the beginning of Covid-19, with action from judges, prosecutors, and the DOC Commissioner with the support of the Mayor. Without that, they are choosing to let people die.”
Last year, 16 people died in-custody.
Molina said the DOC was “saddened to hear” about the death on Monday.
“Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” he said in a statement. “Every person in our custody is someone’s son, daughter, brother or sister, and it is an especially heartbreaking tragedy to learn that a loved one has passed away while incarcerated.”