At least seven City Council members are now urging a federal judge to appoint a receiver for Rikers Island.
In a letter obtained exclusively by NY1, these lawmakers say Rikers Island has only become more deadly and the only way to turn things around would be through a federal takeover.
Eighteen people in custody or recently released from custody have died this year.
“Over the past 11 months, many of us have visited the jails and have held public and private meetings with the Department of Correction’s executive leadership. On these visits, we have continued to witness Rikers’ deteriorating conditions and spoken with dozens of detainees who experience a lack of basic services and safety precautions,” the councilmembers wrote. “Despite promises from leadership, the jails have grown more deadly and far less transparent.”
The letter goes on: “Receivership is the necessary step to improve conditions in our jails. It would give the people running the City’s jails independence from political interference and allow for the implementation of common sense, proven strategies to improve safety and wellbeing of detainees and DOC staff.”
The letter comes just one day ahead of a hearing in federal court where the Department of Correction, attorneys for detainees, the federal monitor overseeing Rikers Island and federal prosecutors will appear before Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who will determine whether a federal takeover should be considered. Already, the Legal Aid Society, who represents detainees in the case, has said it plans to file a motion to request a federal receiver be installed.
The following council members have signed onto the letter: Lincoln Restler, Keith Powers, Shekar Krishnan, Carmen de la Rosa, Crystal Hudson, Amanda Farías and Chi Ossé.