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AP: Mentally Ill Rikers Inmate Was Ignored for Days Before Death

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Some alarming details have come to light about the death of a mentally ill Rikers Island inmate last September.

The Associated Press says 39-year-old Bradley Ballard died after he was locked alone in his cell for seven days.

According to the AP report, he had made a lewd gesture to a female guard.

The news agency goes on to say that correction officers checked on Ballard dozens of times, but never entered his cell.

His family has reportedly said that Ballard had schizophrenia and diabetes.

The report says he was only seen once by a medical staffer and wasn't given some of his medications.

Ballard was eventually found naked and too weak to move, with parts of his body badly infected.

He was pronounced dead later that day.

Ballard was kept in the same type of mental health unit where inmate Jerome Murdough died in an overheated cell in February.

The president of the correction officers union is blaming Ballard's death on a lack of communication between medical staff and guards, and Rikers officers have often complained that they don't get the correct training to deal with the mentally ill.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed reforms in the wake of criticism about the conditions at Rikers, and in a statement, Joseph Ponte, the commissioner of the Department of Correction, agreed with the mayor.

"I share Mayor de Blasio's belief that we must do better by inmates who suffer from mental health issues, and by taking steps like improving coordination and information sharing between security staff and mental health staff, we will," Ponte said.

The Department of Correction says it's launched an internal investigation and has increased monitoring and staff.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley says she will hold a hearing next month on the issue.

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