Despite a damning hearing in which the Department of Correction (DOC) admitted the fatal consequences of their failed “Action Plan,” U.S. District Court Judge Laura Swain failed to consider a motion to turn New York City jails over to a federal receiver on Thursday, November 17. Now, any decision about receivership will wait until all parties convene in April for another review.
Campaign Zero Executive Director DeRay McKesson released the following statement in response to Thursday’s hearing:
This ruling is a shocking abdication of the Court’s responsibilities. It will let an incompetent agency continue to preside over a humanitarian crisis they have utterly failed to address. Our hearts break for the 18 families of the New Yorkers who have died in the Department of Correction’s care this year, who deserved better than this. As we look toward the next chapter of this fight, we hope to do what this court would not: honor their memory with a commitment to safety, accountability, and basic humanity in our city’s jails.DeRay McKesson, Campaign Zero
Eighteen detainees have died in DOC custody so far in 2022, which is the highest count since 2013. A day before the hearing, the Board of Correction (BOC) released a report examining 9 of the deaths this year. Every detainee in the report had missed numerous medical appointments. BOC detailed a pattern of missed tours, fraudulent logbook entries, lack of immediate first aid by staff when a medical emergency occurred, apathetic officers when witnessing contraband use, and of course, a striking number of missed medical appointments. DeShawn Carter, who died by suicide under DOC custody, missed a combined total of 92 medical appointments during his time held at Rikers — 76 of which DOC failed to bring him to the clinic.
The Adams-Molina plan is a resounding failure — Rikers must be dramatically overhauled to even faintly resemble a safe facility. Receivership is necessary to override problematic laws and bad precedents, to implement real reforms — not just the “best we can do under the law” compromises that have failed for decades. To read more about why receivership is necessary, read this Daily News Op-Ed co-authored by McKesson and former DOC Deputy Commissioner for Internal Affairs Sarena Townsend.
Judge Swain’s decision has devastating consequences that will surely cost many more detainees their lives. Swain has essentially sanctioned Rikers — a pre-trial detention facility where folks are innocently awaiting trial — to continue to be a death sentence. Blood is on her hands.
For more information about Campaign Zero’s efforts to hold Mayor Adams and the Department of Correction accountable and advocate for a federal receiver, visit www.RikersIsland.org.