10,000 signatures reached
Rikers Island must end human rights abuses
To: Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte
Stand with the women of the 4 East A dormitory at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island and insist that staff at Rikers Island stop torturing prisoners and lawfully comply with their own rulebook. All incarcerated persons detained or sentenced to Rikers must receive timely routine and emergency care for all their physical and psychological health needs after a full intake evaluation, and they must have access to an accountable and effective grievance process to resolve complaints of staff misconduct and medical neglect.
Why is this important?
As reported in the New York Times, New York City's Department of Investigation is reviewing 129 cases of assault on Rikers Island inmates by correction officers at the prison in 2013.  The 30 investigators working on the case have uncovered evidence leading to the arrests of a captain and eight correction officers for, among other things, assaulting inmates and falsifying evidence to cover up their crimes. Incarcerated persons with mental health issues have suffered the worst of the violence,  with a population in need of mental health care nearly as large as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State.
As the prison population has declined, violence has increased. Incarcerated persons with mental health issues are often treated with choke holds instead of therapy. Inmates have been brutally beaten after suicide attempts, with at least one suicide attempt faked by correction officers to cover their assault on a prisoner.
Though the assaults, isolation, and extremes of temperature incarcerated persons may face at Rikers Island may be severe, the neglect of their health can do just as much damage.
Incarcerated persons have been left unattended for hours while in need of emergency medical care, denied necessary medical tests, and isolated in filthy cells for hours or days. One inmate was left to miscarry alone and in pain, while another was mocked and denied medical care as she sobbed for help before her eventual death in her cell.
Being sentenced to a crime does not include being subject to beatings and medical neglect. When a person is in state custody, beatings and medical neglect are torture. The grievance process is ineffectual. Staff are rarely held accountable for even the most serious offenses.
These abuses have been going on for a long time, but they must end. Join us to tell Mayor DeBlasio and Commissioner Ponte that it's time for Rikers Island staff to follow their own rules and put an end to the torture and neglect of the people in their care.
 - "New York City Reviewing Rikers Assaults on 129 Inmates," by Michael Schwirtz and Michael Winerip, New York Times, July 21, 2014.
 - "Rikers: Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality in Jail," by Michael Winerip an Michael Schwirtz, July 14, 2014
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