New York City’s Jails See Two Deaths in Single Week
In less than a week, two men have died in custody in New York City’s jails.
On Sunday, Isaabdul Karim, 42, died in an infirmary while in detention on Rikers Island. Officials say they believe he died of “natural causes,” but the medical examiner has yet to make an official determination. According to The Intercept, Karim became infected with COVID-19 while held in the jail’s intake pens. It’s not clear whether he was vaccinated, but he also had underlying medical conditions and was in a wheelchair. He reportedly appeared to be recovering from COVID but then suddenly collapsed. CPR was not able to revive him.
On Wednesday, Stephan Khadu, 24, died while being held at the Vernon C. Bain Center, a floating barge-turned-jail docked near Rikers. Khadu’s death is still under investigation. A representative from the jail wardens’ union has said that Khadu had a history of seizures at the jail. He told The New York Times that medical staff responded quickly to his latest seizure even though an elevator at the jail wasn’t working.
Karim and Khadu mark the 11th and 12th deaths at Rikers this year. Reason‘s J.D. Tuccille noted on Monday—before Karim’s death was widely reported—the many bad problems in Rikers’ operations.
The two deaths also highlight other endemic problems with how New York City’s entire criminal justice system operates. Khadu was arrested in 2019 for some very serious crimes: He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the second degree, assault, grand larceny, and other offenses. But though he was charged nearly two years ago, he had not had his trial a
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