Joint Statement From Public Advocate Williams And Comptroller Lander On The Thirteenth Death In City Custody In 2022

August 31st, 2022

Press Release

“Today, Michael Nieves became the 13th person to die in city custody this year – the 29th since the beginning of 2021. 

“This is not the first time that officers stood by passively during a suicide attempt. While some corrections staff are working intensely to improve health and safety on the island, others are actively undermining these efforts. 

“Regardless of declining staff absenteeism rates, city jails have no business operating as the City’s de facto mental health facilities. But because we fail to adequately fund mental health treatment year after year, more than a thousand people with serious mental illness are currently incarcerated. 

“Our visit to Rikers earlier this week made clear to us that, despite some improvements from the nightmare we witnessed on the island a year ago, clearly conditions for people on both sides of the bars are neither safe nor sustainable.  

“Those in charge of the wellbeing of detained people must be held accountable when the basic standards of human decency are not met. The City must renew and expedite its efforts to close the jail facilities at Rikers.  

“Urgent change is needed at the Department of Correction. But no reforms will repair the loss for Michael Nieves’ family, or twelve other families this year alone." 

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