Pressure to Close Rikers Island Mounts After Inmate Deaths

In Summary

In 2019, New York City council members voted to shut down Rikers Island by the year 2027.

Rikers Island is one of the most well-known correctional facilities in the United States, but it’s also known for abusing and neglecting inmates, according to The New York Times.  

RELATED: 38 positive for coronavirus in NYC jails, including Rikers

One former inmate, Darren Mack, served time in Rikers in 1992 and 1993 and described his experience as unpleasant and wants the jail complex to close. 

“People who survived Rikers have coined that term ‘torture island’ because that’s the experience that we experienced there, whether it’s mental torture, spiritual torture and physical torture,” he told BNC. 

More people have died in the jail complex this year than in any year. 

RELATED: 1 in 5 prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died

As a result, it is leading to more calls from activists to shut down Rikers Island, which was established in 1932. Additionally, Rikers Island has been a toxic environment for correctional officers as there have been staffing shortages.  

Due to that, inmates have taken advantage of the staff shortages by making attempts to flee the prison complex. 

“Approximately 1,300 correction officers resigned since January of 2019 because of the inhumane and hostile working environment they have been forced to work in,” said Benny Boscio Jr., president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc. 

RELATED: Tennessee County Exposed for History of Jailing Black Children

According to the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc., Rikers Island can hold almost 15,000 inmates in its 10 major jails. New York City council members voted to shut down Rikers Island in 2019 by the year 2027. 

A month ago, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less Is More Act, releasing almost 200 Rikers Island inmates to help decrease the jail population. 

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