Elected officials make surprise visit to Rikers Island
Three New York City elected officials made a surprise visit to Rikers Island on Monday. The purpose of the visit was so that they could see what has improved and what needs to be changed inside the prison. The visit comes after 12 inmates have died in custody this year alone.
City Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Council member Carlina Rivera visited four facilities to check on the Riker’s reformation process.
Williams said inmates housed in what is considered to be solitary confinement are outside more with program access, and officers are now only working double instead of triple shifts.
“The intake system is operating, people seem to be moving forward,” said Williams. “I do think we have to focus a lot on just getting people’s trials done.”
The public advocate went on to highlight the major concerns officials had – not enough rec time, little time for officer meal breaks and missed medical appointments.
Council member Rivera said she wants inequities in the system to be addressed.
"There is a pattern of who is on Rikers Island, predominantly Black and brown people,” said Rivera. “We spoke to a gentleman who said he has spent more time on Rikers Island than in his own neighborhood of Brownsville."
Elected officials say they hope to have a September hearing on the Halt Solitary bill, and that their goal is still to shut down the prison.