Thursday, December 18, 2014

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The Call Blog: City Investigates Death Of Rikers Island Inmate

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This story makes me sick. So many failures on so many levels. Why is a homeless man arrested for sleeping in a stairwell? Why do we ignore the needs of veterans? Why was bail set at $2,500? How did no one notice a heating malfunction affecting several cells? Why did no one check on his cell for more than four hours? Why are we learning about his death more than a month after it took place? And finally, why aren't more people outraged over this?



The Department of Correction is investigating the death of a mentally ill veteran on Rikers Island last month. Sources tell the Associated Press that 56-year-old Jerome Murdough was found dead in a jail cell that had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment. The AP reports Murdough was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes, but nobody had been to his cell in more than four hours when he was found dead.

Advocates for mentally ill inmates say the case represents the failure of the City's justice system. Police arrested and jailed Murdough for trespassing after the homeless former Marine was found sleeping in a stairwell at a Harlem public housing development. News of his death coincides with a New York Times report that found violence at Rikers is at its worst since "since the gang riots of the 1980s and early 1990s." What do you say?

What's your reaction to the death of Jerome Murdough? Should he have been arrested and jailed for trespassing? What question do you want answered in this investigation? How would you describe the state of the justice system in New York City?

Send your thoughts using the link above.



Hi John

Mr. Murdough shouldn't of been arrested and jailed for trespassing since he was homeless and mentally ill, who ever arrested him should of taken him to a shelter so he could have a decent meal and someplace to sleep.Why was he put in a jail cell that was so hot and why wasn't he checked on every 15 minutes, this story reminds me of the incident that happened at 784 columbus ave the guy killed his father and wounded his mother that guy was mentally ill also if the neighbors heard arguments all the time why didn't they do something about it and why didn't the parents try and put him away

Please don't forget about the people that were left homeless due to the explosion in El Barrio some people lost everything we all have to help them out we're New Yorkers we have to show compassion for people and families that need help

Herman
UWS



INMATE MURDOUGH WAS IN THE CARE OF SOMEONE AT RIKERS. HE WAS HELD IN A SPECIAL SECTION FOR INMATES THAT NEEDED SPECIAL CARE. THE 15 MINUTE BED CHECK WAS NOT FOLLOWED. WHEN IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE MARINE NEEDED OBSERVATION EVERY 15 MINUTES AND WAS NOT FOLLOWED, RESULTING IN DEATH, I SUGGEST MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES SHOULD BE LEVIED.

CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY.
JOE, BAY TERRACE



Hi John,

This story is a very sad one. I did read it myself today and why was he picked up just for loitering and then put in a cell for the mentally ill. What I don’t understand is how did the authorities know that he was mentally ill. I also read that the vent was closed in the cell and because of that he died. It also leads me to believe that he was to be looked upon every 15 minutes and those orders were not carried out. I also saw a picture of two members of his family. The state of the justice system has always been the same and it continues to just be allowed to carry on in the same way. Where is all the outrage from this present administration. They seem to react for every other situation and so I just wonder why they have been silent about this.

It’s just so sad because when they took the time to arrest him I think that maybe there might have been another option starting out with why did they arrest him so quickly. It’s another story that has more questions than answers.

I will remember his name = that’s the least I can do=Mr. Jerome Murdough !!!

Thank you John,
maxxiee
mp



I've witnessed correctional officers kill a kid in Allegany County Jail in Cumberland, Maryland. The jail was shut down, no phone calls or letters were allowed in or out the jail.

Don



Since the public is only now learning about this situation (about a month later), why don't we have more information? Is it because there are "on going investigations"? Shouldn't some of this be public records? Did the Commissioner say anything more? The AP? NY1?

I'd like to know many things, including:

1) Who were the arresting officers and why didn't they take the man to a hospital or mental health institution or a homeless shelter? Could the officers tell the man had mental health issues? Did they think the man was a threat or was a burglar? Did he have warrants?

2) Why wasn't he screened for mental health issues? If there is a procedure to screen for mental health issues and then send to a hospital, why wasn't this done? Was it done? I assume the man could be identified (because the prison knew who he was), was he in the system?

3) Why hasn't the family been notified or told anything? Why was it through a news reporter and not the city?

This smells of cover up and corruption.

Condolences to the victim'a family.

Ryan
Manhattan



something for the mayor to ponder ...the tale of three cities, the rich, the poor and the inmates on rikers

jerry - bay ridge



I heard the state has some cash for homeless veterans since we don't have to pay for illegal immigrants now.

Mark



Rikers Island has become the new Willowbook -- warehousing the mentally-disabled, among others, in the most deplorable circumstances with little oversight and no regard for the health and well being of the inmates - guilty or not. They are still human beings and don't deserve this Dickensian punishment in one of the wealthiest cities in the US. Moreover, extended solitary confinement should be considered a form of torture.

Gretchen
UWS



Some people wonder why he was arrested and jailed. He was arrested because he was trespassing. I wouldn't want anyone sleeping in my hall or stairwell. In NYCHA there have been many crimes committed by trespasser's against residents...he should be arrested. All arrestees are prescreened by ems at central booking in every borough. If they have any indication of medical or psychological issues they are sent to the hospital where the professionals deem weather they are fit to be in the system..... anyway condolences to the family

Edward



I was at c95 20 lower and the cell I was in the window did not open when I complain they would say it's not a hotel deal with it.

Anonymous



Jerome Murdour's death was in vain and his crime was clearly not severe enough for him to be jailed. He was already homeless, and the police officer who arrested him clearly was not justified in arresting him. This lessens my faith in the judicial system of NYC.

John



John - There's perhaps no more undeserved American population than those in our corrections system, who are still humans, who still have families, who have so few people to speak on their behalf. Within their ranks, the mentally ill stand little to no chance of being accounted for or tended to in any kind of meaningful way. New Yorkers should be ashamed of the fairly consistent embarrassment that is our city's Department of Corrections. Between this barbarism and the DOC bus drivers' blockade of a prisoner who was going to testify against a CO, it's fairly clear that system needs intense and immediate reformation. But again, the problem is: Who will speak for these people? Which of our elected officials will finally find the spine to take on the DOC, and speak for those whose votes they can't lobby?

Foster



TRESPASSING IN A PUBLIC BUILDING IS NOT A CRIME THAT WARRANTS AN ARREST. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESCORTED TO A SHELTER AND AT THE LEAST GIVEN A SUMMONS. THE POLICE ACTED OVER ZEALOUSLY. THE BUILDING WAS PROBABLY DRUG INFESTED AND WAS GIVEN THE TAG BY NYPD TO ARREST ANYONE WHO DID NOT LIVE THERE. TRESPASSING ALLOWS RACIAL PROFILING. AGAIN THE POLICE ACTED INAPPROPRIATELY. THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. FOR THERE LACK OF EMPATHY AND SENSITIVITY.

ANONYMOUS



Neglect isn't a strong enough word. Jerome Murdough was tortured to death at Rikers. The mentally ill need compassion and treatment, not solitary confinement. Mr. Murdough was not a criminal. The City should pay dearly for this and should also make some major changes immediately.

Diane, Greenwich Village



While it is not right that a man is dead by continued wrecklessness of corrections, the same family of this man bear part blame! They knew he was homeless and left him stranded addicted, no sympothy for family but for the many whose family neglects them them come crying from tragedy.. Wonder how long it will take before they seek to profit from the death of a family member they abandoned! Mental.health needs complete overhaul! People.are being over labeled!

Lawrence
Canarsie, Brooklyn



Why is every building run by the city so overheated ? Prayers for the family

Edward



The police are just picking up and dropping off any and everyone! Central bookings is a homeless shelter and their expecting the Corrections Officers to be responsible for not only serious offenders to the mentally ill! That puts not only the officers in jeopardy but the mentally ill

pat



Honestly i feel like the police shouldn't have arrested Jerome Murdough because he was sleeping in a building they should have helped him go ti a shelter because he was a veteran and he probably wasn't doing anything harmful to anybody . The NYPD system is corrupt they're fast to lock someone up and summons them instead of helping them go to a place

Stephanie
Manhattan NY



It is a shameful country - not taking care of our veterans. all out vets are coming home PSD and with various mental conditions ...and shameful city when a man who was sleeping in a building hallway because the homeless shelters are terrible !!! Gets arrested. And dies in custody. There needs to be a mental health court and jails need to be treating and rehabilitating out inmates and not using them as a captialist system !! Refer to Angela Davis book 'Are prisons obscelete?' The jails have become a capitalist tool for slavery and we are far behind other first world countries - who work on rehabilitating people and criminalizing our population !

- Sarah from Harlem



YOU DONT PUT A P[ERSON ON JAIL FOR SLEEPING IN A HALLWAY ESPECIALLY A US MARINE. YOU TAKE THWE TO A SHELTER OR DO WHATEVER ONE HAS TO DO AND CONTACT FAMILY SHAME ON NEW YORK IM GLAD THAT IM LEAVING NEW YORK .

ANONYMOUS



The reqiuirements for a correction officer must be changed to a requirement that officers have 60 college credits so they are better prepared to deal with imprisoned people without solitary confinement for minor rule violations. The three correction union need new leadership and must be replaced by their union members. Correction officers must be correction officers not guards who wait 20 years to retire while abusing inmates and ignoring their cries for medical and mental treatment.

Allan
Midwood
Brooklyn Member of JAC NYC Jails Action Coalition



Hi John,

My sympathies to Mr. Murdough's mother. I understand he may have not been able to either pay a fine or post bail or maybe he had an open warrant. He was arrested & not summonsed probably because he couldn't provide an address or valid identification.
This is a multi-faceted problem for police & corrections. He's got a mental condition and hospitals don't keep them that long and they're back where they were removed from.
I agree, corrections facilities aren't the right place for him. Maybe insane asylums should be brought back

Dave
Midwood, Brooklyn



We need to hone our outlook, outreach, and resources to those with mental illness. The scenario at Rikers is out of the Dark Ages. My sympathies to his family

Chris
West Brighton, SI



What a horrible tragedy to happen to this man, whose "crime" of sleeping on the stairwell (most probably to get out of the cold) got him arrested and ultimately caused his demise. What a terrible thing! My heart goes out to his mother who is still trying to process this horrible event.

Responsibility has to be assigned and those responsible for the conditions and the neglect that took place in that jail, need to be accountable.

My heart is certainly heavy now.

Silvia
Parkchester



There are a number of safety hazards all through out Rikers Islands, unfortunately reporting it only leads to administrative retribution, because Supervisors like Commissioner Schriro; & Chief Mirabal demand their subordinates see no evil; hear no evil; and speak no evil. Trust me I know, because I was one that always reported safety violations; and inmate endangerment it only lead to supervisory staff compiling false reprimands against me which later resulted in.

EX Correction Officer



I think it speaks more about our mental health system than our jail system.

Maureen in the Bronx



Maybe it is time for an overhaul of the correctional system. Instead of planning to screw up the city, the City Council should do something useful for a change. I mean if half of them belong in jail, at least they should take care of their future home.

Roscoe,
Park Hill



John,

I say that Rikers and other prisons are criminal operations themselves. They should be thoroughly investigated, abusive personnel fired and the whole thing shut down in many cases. If drugs were not illegal, the population of prisons would fall dramatically. The prison workers Unions would, of course, fight this.

Joe
Port Richmond, SI

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