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Here’s why Rikers Island is in crisis


The dead include Wilson Diaz Guzman, 30, who hanged himself in his cell in January, and Javier Velasco, 30-year-old, who was found unconscious in March with a sheet wrapped around his neck. August 10, Brandon Rodriguez, 25, was found hanged in a shower in a prison admission area and on August 30, Segundo Guallpa, 57, was found dead in what the Corrections Department described as suspected suicide.

It is not known whether the death of Tomas Carlo Camacho, 48, in March, was a suicide. Mr. Camacho was found unconscious and kneeling with his head through a small opening in the cell door known as the handcuff slot.

At least five other people have died on Rikers Island this year: Thomas braunson iii, 35, Richard blake, 45, José Mejia Martinez, 35, Robert jackson, 42 and, last week, Esias Johnson, 24. Their causes of death remain unknown.

Allen Chey King, 51, detained at Rikers, said he found Mr Johnson unconscious in a prison dormitory. Mr Johnson had pleaded with staff for medical treatment in the two days before his death, Mr King said.

The guards tried to help, Mr King said, but it appeared the clinic was being supported by patients.

“He said he was in a lot of pain. His stomach was aching, ”King said. “He said he had to go to the clinic.”

Rikers is a municipal jail, but people are sent there because they are accused of violating state law. This means that any attempt to resolve the crisis there must occur at the delicate intersection of state and city politics.

A group of state lawmakers, city officials and public advocates held a press conference in Rikers on Monday and called for a list of actions to be taken by Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City prosecutors and judges, who are bound by state law, but can use their discretion to affect the results of individual defendants.


nytimes Gt