You are reading

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Calls on Governor and Mayor to Immediately Shut Down Rikers and Release Inmates

Rikers Island entrance (Queens Post)

Sept. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other New York Congress members are calling on both the governor and mayor to immediately shut down the Rikers Island jail complex.

Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez penned a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday demanding that they shut down the jail and release those detained.

“We urgently write to you with concern on the current human rights violations and humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island Correctional Facility (Rikers),” the Congress members wrote. “We strongly believe that those who are detained at Rikers should be immediately released and the facility shut down.”

Their letter follows numerous reports of inhumane conditions on Rikers Island and the death of a detainee on Sunday — who became the 11th inmate fatality at the detention center this year.

“It has become evident that the conditions at Rikers… are deplorable, and nothing short of a humanitarian crisis,” the lawmakers wrote.

Elected officials say a staffing crisis at the Rikers Island detention facility has led to poor oversight, limited medical access for inmates and inhumane conditions.

The average number of correction officers out sick each day more than doubled and the number of unannounced no-shows among the officers more than tripled between July 2020 and July 2021, THE CITY reported.

As a result, guards who do show up to work have been forced to work exhausting double or triple shifts.

The city has filed a lawsuit against the union representing the guards due to the steep rise in unexcused absences. De Blasio is seeking a $1 million fine against the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association for every day of excessive absences.

Meanwhile, self-harm incidents — including suicides —among detainees have also spiked since the beginning of the pandemic, according to THE CITY.

In fact, Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos said they witnessed an attempted suicide with their own eyes on a visit to the facility on Sept. 13.

The state legislators described appalling conditions they saw at Rikers — such as excessive overcrowding in jail cells and feces and garbage strewn about the ground. They said several people had not received their medications for weeks and inmates were deprived of showers, food and water.

Ocasio-Cortez thanked the two legislators and several others for bringing attention to the issues at the Rikers facilities.

She and her Congressional colleagues noted that the majority of inmates at Rikers are being held as they await their day in court. More than 70 percent are being held pre-trial.

“As of Sept. 16, 2021, over 4,600 of the roughly 6,000 people in DOC custody were being detained pretrial – representing over 76 percent of the system’s population – with nearly 1,500 detained for misdemeanor or non-violent crimes,” they wrote in the letter.

The Congress members said these inmates must be released and that federal funding that the facility receives should be used to support their re-entry into society.

“The current conditions experienced at Rikers are inhumane, unconstitutional, and a public health crisis” they wrote. “We believe federal funds should be used to decarcerate and shut down the facility immediately, as well as provide social, economic, psychological, and physical health support to all those that are released to ensure their safe re-entry into our community.”

email the author: [email protected]

44 Comments

Click for Comments 
sunnysider

Relocate the prisoners to other jails, yes. Release them into the public, heck no. Imagine if they moved into your neighborhood, would you be happy, safe? They need to serve their time.

Reply
Bill

It’s time for decent people to stand up in the community and stop supporting these senseless idiots like Bowman and AOC. They will fade away like the Tea Party.

23
3
Reply
Jose

I’ve spent time at Rikers on several occasions. It’s not that bad! So maybe it can use a little paint, an exterminator once in a while, a few extra guards! So what! If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime. You’re not going on vacation.

8
2
Reply
Tom

Gee, what a coincidence that they tried to commit suicide when the politicians came by! I’m sure it was all planned. Oh look Jessica(s) a suicide! How horrible!

20
2
Reply
Laura

AOC is doing much more than Kamala Harris. AOC is the face of the new democratic party. When she talks people listen. She was elected twice by the people because she is against the establishment.

6
40
Reply
Tiff

Yeah but it’s just a shame she couldn’t stick to her principals and just vote no on supporting the Iron Dome.

10
9
Reply
Kyle

She’s got my vote. Her decision to vote no on the Iron Dome was pretty tough and shows she’s willing to do what it takes to win the votes of the people!

1
23
Reply
Fan of Dough Boy Park

Kyle, she voted “ present “ not “no” . 15 seconds of research was required for that info. So I guess she’s not tough and not willing to upset certain voters. She cried afterwards. What a farce.

22
1
Reply
Malcolm Y

AOC is so fake. She votes no then votes present which is pretty much voting yes then claims she cried. I didn’t appreciate Republican politicians and Fox News ridiculing her for being a clueless waitress. I guess you need to be a lawyer to run for public office but the AOC haters don’t get it when some post on social media and they themselves never went to college. But AOC has the shrewdness to be a politician.

5
11
Jim

No, she ain’t the face. There are still a lot of moderate middle class democrats who don’t want her agenda. If she is then there will be a big exodus to the Republicans and she will not be able to let in enough immigrants to make up the difference.

5
2
Reply
Sam

The insanity of what is being proposed is like a bad Hollywood script. You can’t imagine that anyone with half a brain would propose such a thing. Where are the reasonable politicians to stop this madness?

52
3
Reply
Lucky number 7 train

I’m starting to think at AOC and her crowd are secret Republican agents by destroying the city they will force people to switch parties for simple survival. kinda like when people got so sick of crime and bankruptcy that they elected Rudy and George. I’m telling you secret Republican agents there can be no other logical answer.

16
5
Reply
FedUpNQnz

Rikers may be a hellhole, yes, but make no mistake–there are probably real estate interests salivating at the thought of developing luxury housing on this “island” after the prison is shut down. Just think of the ad: “The Estates at Rikers: You’ll be Imprisoned in Luxury”! Left politics and massive profits go hand in hand!

25
3
Reply
Sandra

Who cares?
It’s called jail. Not supposed to be a 5- star hotel.
Don’t like it, don’t commit crimes.
Enjoy your stay!

41
4
Reply
Dude

It’s actually a jail. It’s run by the city. Prison is where you go if sentenced to a year or more and they are run by the state.

Reply
Sunshine and Rainbows

NYC public schools are going straight to the toilet. Pushing that Math and Science are racist; core subjects for kids being de-emphasized for lesbian studies and other nonsense; hordes of illegal kids forced into classrooms without speaking a word of English; refusal to open more trade high schools for kids who are not academically inclined; not praising smart kids who work hard to get good grades in fear of offending “stupid” kids. The work of parents teaching their kids the right thing is being thrown out the window with schools pushing this entitlement agenda. Progressives push for feelings, and get offended when told that no one owes them anything, and you have to work hard to get ahead in life. Instead they want everything equal with sunshine and rainbows for everyone.

28
6
Reply
Fox News and it’s viewers live over the rainbow

Sunshine and rainbows – Your entire incorrect and uninformed post is from somewhere over the rainbow.

5
9
Reply
Abby

The governor is so clueless its hard to watch, you can easily tell she doesn’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on and what to do. Her script on how to act hasn’t been written yet so she’s simply on air plane mode.

42
8
Reply
ABoondy

so you think that punching an old lady on the street and robbing her or pushing someone on the train tracks is not a violent crime?

29
3
Reply
Bench warmer

this is the non-sense that people like you elect these individuals who have other agendas when they come into office , have you looked around the city? There is non-stop violence because the mayor has no-control over the city because he does not back up the police . This city has crumpled and it will continue unless we do not have a mayor with a backbone .The mayor and his wife should be fully investigated for the money they took that they advertised to use for “mental help” instead homelessness is out of control because there isn’t mental help or facilitates to help these people

Where should these people go once released ????
I agree Rikers needs a complete makeover starting with the people that run it but if you do the crime you do the time

5
1
Reply
You’re not rich enough to guarantee you will never end up incarcerated

If “ you do the crime you do the time”. Is a great catch phrase but it still does not give someone (jailers or other prison personnel and companies) the right to commit crimes to anyone including those who are incarcerated.

2
3
Reply
Socialism at its best

Who voted for these clowns? First you decriminalized certain laws, then bail reform, programs to help gangbangers, now you want to release criminals?

Remember how DiBlasio released prisoners during the peak of COVID? Remember how a couple of weeks ago a criminal with a long rap sheet punched a poor deaf nun on the train and was released immediately because of bail reform? It’s the golden age for criminals. Mask mandates to cover identity, knowing that laws are lax, and made up excuses by playing the race card just give criminals incentive to do whatever they want. The progressive disease keeps spreading.

63
4
Reply
its no secret

Hey Cortez- take a trip to Rikers and tell they inmates there that if the dont want to go there then don’t commit a crime. its quite simple actually. If you think about it long enough even you might figure it out.

60
4
Reply
Trump voters hate wealthy elites

The RNC hosted a 400-person dinner at Mar-a-Lago, totally different right? It’s cute when you pretend this offends you 😂

7
25
Reply
Jim

Yes let’s release all the criminals. Any decent person who wants to live in this city with people like Ocasio Cortez and Bowman are sick. They believe that every person of color who is put in jail is there unjustly.

57
5
Reply
Tony

There is too much crime in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Of course most Blacks and Hispanics are decent hard working people but criminal behavior is accepted in these communities and that’s the truth.

25
3
Reply
She Guevara

Ocassional Cortex isn’t even a democrat. She’s a damned anarchist. Who else would want to let the criminals loose en masse to prey on decent people?

56
6
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

Jan. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.