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Reps. AOC, Bowman, Nadler, Velȧzquez to Governor, Mayor: Decarcerate Rikers

September 21, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velȧzquez sent a letter to Governor Hochul and Mayor de Blasio expressing their belief that Rikers Island jail complex should be shut down immediately and those who are detained should be released. The full letter is available here

“We strongly believe that those who are detained at Rikers should be immediately released and the facility shut down. It has become evident that the conditions at Rikers – which is overseen by the New York City Department of Corrections and receives federal funding from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program – are deplorable, and nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. We believe that the conditions of the facility represent a gross mismanagement of those federal funds. As such, we believe that expanding the facility and hiring corrections officers will exacerbate the issue; and redirecting funds towards emergency medical support staff would be a better use of funds,” reads the letter.

This letter follows numerous reports of inhumane conditions at the detention center. This year alone, eleven people have died at Rikers, including Esias Johnson, a 24-year-old man who was being held on $1 bail and whose family said he had struggled with mental illness. As of September 16, 2021, over 4,600 of the roughly 6,000 people in DOC custody were being detained pretrial – representing over 76% of the system’s population – with nearly 1,500 detained for misdemeanor or non-violent crimes.