Rikers Island Sees 2 Prisoner Deaths in 2 Days
It’s been a week since a judge approved an action plan to reform the dangerous and troubled Rikers Island jail in New York City to avoid a federal takeover, and there have already been two inmate deaths.
On Monday, Rikers Island officials announced the death of Anibal Carrasquillo, 39, most likely of a drug overdose. Carrasquillo is the seventh prisoner to die in custody on Rikers Island this year. Then on Tuesday, the Department of Corrections announced the death of Albert Drye, 52, making him the eighth death. The circumstances of his death have not yet been released.
Just a month ago, another inmate, Emmanuel Sullivan, was found dead in his bed on Rikers. He was the third inmate to die just in May.
Rikers had 16 prisoners die while in custody in 2021, and widespread staff shortages have turned the detention center—which already had a well-deserved reputation for corruption and dysfunction—into a complete hellhole. More than 1,000 correction officers out of 9,000 are failing to show up for work on an average day.
A federal monitoring team had encouraged intervention to try set things aright there. A letter from the team to federal U.S. District Judge Laura T. Swain last summer warned, “This state of seriously compromised safety has spiraled to a point at which, on a daily basis, there is a manifest risk of serious harm to both detainees and staff, which in turn, generates high levels of fear among both groups with each accusing the other of exacerbating already challenging conditions.”
But Mayor Eric Adams and his Department of Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina resisted a complete federal takeover and had submitted a lengthy reform plan to Swain promising to change sick leave and absence policies and
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