Despite the jail having a $1.2 billion budget, men were crammed into overcrowded holding cells for days and forced to sleep on floors covered with rotten food, maggots, urine, feces, and blood. In addition, they were forced to use plastic sheets for blankets, sleep on cardboard, and use bags for toilets.
The photos show intake cells at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center (OBCC) on Rikers Island. While the city requires that inmates be assigned a housing area within 24 hours, at least 256 men sat in the cells for days and weeks due to medical delays and a shortage of staff. Inmates also had little to no access to fresh air and showers and were denied visits with lawyers as well as trips to the courthouse for hearings.
One of the inmates — 42-year-old Isaabdul Karim — died as a result of the conditions on the island. Karim, who was being held on a technical parole violation, spent 10 days in an intake cell and contracted the COVID-19 virus. Despite catching the virus and having additional medical issues, he was reportedly denied access to medical care and treatments and died three weeks later. The city’s medical examiner is still determining his cause of death.
“It was inhumane…They’re not supposed to be there that long, the intake is just a place to process the inmates,” said a jailhouse source. “And the sad thing about it is…you couldn’t do anything about it, it was all management. They knew what was going on and they did nothing.”
State Senator Jessica Ramos recalled seeing an inmate attempting to hang himself and noted the “stench” of the facility.
“It’s the smell of death,” Ramos said. “It was a house of horrors.”
The Department of Corrections (DOC) closed OBCC’s intake and reopened the Eric M. Taylor Center to combat overcrowding after elected officials, community advocates, and union leaders spoke out against the jail following multiple visits. A spokesperson for the DOC claimed the conditions witnessed in the photos no longer exist at Rikers Island.
“We’ve closed OBCC’s intake and reopened the Eric M. Taylor Center for intake purposes, ended overcrowding and long waits in intake, and thoroughly cleaned this and many other facilities,” the spokesperson said.
The DOC has also claimed that there have been no 24-hour violations since implementing its new admission process.
Scroll above to view photos of the conditions at Rikers Island.
Source: NY Post