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Federal takeover of Rikers Island possible amid facility’s problems

After years of proposed reform to tackle staffing, safety and accusations of inhumane conditions, a federal judge is putting the pressure on the city. In a court hearing Tuesday, the judge asked the city's Department of Correction and the federal monitor-- who has been in place since 2015 -- to come up with a plan to address the jail's ongoing issues or face officially losing control of Rikers.

News 12 Staff

Apr 27, 2022, 9:40 PM

Updated 787 days ago

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A potential federal takeover of Rikers Island could be coming if the city can't get a plan together to solve the facility’s issues.
After years of proposed reform to tackle staffing, safety and accusations of inhumane conditions, a federal judge is putting the pressure on the city. In a court hearing Tuesday, the judge asked the city's Department of Correction and the federal monitor-- who has been in place since 2015 -- to come up with a plan to address the jail's ongoing issues or face officially losing control of Rikers.
"The feds are now paying close attention to this, it's moved past just the monitor and into a conversation about receivership that seems to be the only direction left," said Gabriel Sayegh, Co-executive Director at Katal Center for Equity, Health and Justice. "That's a good sign. Something's got to be done because what's happening is a crisis that's become so normalized now because it's happening every day."
Anisah Sabur, the lead organizer for the Halt Solitary Campaign, tells News 12 that Rikers needs to close whether the city continues to manage it or not.
"No matter who is in charge, they really need to think about, these are human lives right?” she said. “And last year we lost 16 people right and how do we stop this crisis from happening?"
Despite Sayvegh acknowledging he's potentially in favor of federal oversight, he wants to make sure the facility is ultimately closed.
"If they do take this over and address the conditions that's going to be good,” he added. “That's not enough. This thing has to get shut down."
The city's law department says it will work with the commissioner and the monitor to resolve the jail's issues in the plan due May 17. The next hearing is set for May 24.


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