Riker’s is located in the middle of the East River and holds about 10,000 inmates. It is a mix of criminals. Some have committed petty crimes but as much as 80% are awaiting trial. Many are there just because they can’t make bail money. More importantly the mentally ill make up more than 40% of the population. Correction officers are not adequately trained to deal with the mentally ill. The result is a pattern of neglect and excessive force. It has led the United States Attorney to intervene. His office has found a culture of violence on top of a culture of silence and looks like corruption to me. In many cases when a mentally ill person dies, there is no discipline of the officers at all. Must I be the “Serpico” uncovering corruption in our Jails?
There are officers there that have dozens of complaints against them and were never disciplined even once. Homeless people commit some crime just to go to jail rather than a shelter. But then they are disciplined and have brain injuries, broken bones and serious physical injuries are out of control there. It is all compounded by that increase of mentally ill inmates. Mentally ill people are placed in solitary confinement instead of treated by doctors. Lawsuits have been filed where a mentally ill patient was locked there for 6 days with no medication and died there. The staff walked by each day but failed to help him. He died in his own waste since they cut off the water to his toilet too. The city declared his death a homicide. To this day no criminal charges have been filed against any official or staff member that oversaw his time at Riker’s.
Over 129 serious injuries have been reported at the prison in one month’s time from the hands of staff members documented in a report by the N.Y.C. Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. It was intended for internal use only but the report has been leaked to the public. The report found that 77% of the injuries were found on the mentally ill inmates. Their injuries were severe enough to require care beyond the abilities of prison doctors. Riker’s should be called the largest mental institution in this country yet the care is grossly inadequate. Even in court testimony, police captains say don’t bother me unless there is a dead body. In case after case medication is not provided, counseling is not provided but violence and solitary confinement till death seems to be normal at Riker’s. Be careful if you have to go there!