Oct. 13, 2021 By Christian Murray
Three Congressional lawmakers—including two who represent neighborhoods in Queens—visited Rikers Island Tuesday and called the facility inhumane and urged local and state officials to take corrective action.
Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ritchie Torres said the conditions that inmates are living under and prison staff face each day are horrific.
“The inhumane conditions we witnessed today are a stain on the City and State of New York. Riker’s horrific history must come to an end,” the trio said in a statement Tuesday. “The City, State, and federal government must immediately take action to correct the humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island, and provide a safe and clean environment – including ensuring access to medical care for those incarcerated there.”
The lawmakers said that action must be taken immediately to alleviate the problem. They said it was inexcusable that the number of in-custody deaths on Rikers Island has more than quadrupled over the past two years, including five individuals who have died of suspected suicides this year alone.
“We can act today by beginning the decarceration process, supporting individuals’ return to their communities, and working with the Courts to reduce pretrial sentencing and to expedite hearings for those currently incarcerated.”
They said that they welcomed the recent signing of the Less Is More Act, although said more needs to be done.
The Less is More Act aims to reform the state’s parole system and reduce the likelihood that parolees will be incarcerated for minor or technical violations, such as missing an appointment or failing to meet a curfew. The act also aims to speed up the timeframe for judicial review for any violations.