Rikers Island Detainee Dies — Seventh Death in NYC Custody This Year


NEW YORK — A detainee died on Rikers Island early Monday — the seventh person to die in custody at the jail complex this year.

The inmate died in the George R. Vierno Center at about 1:30 a.m. The Department of Correction did not immediately identify the cause of death.

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of this individual,” said DOC Commissioner Louis Molina. “Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Every person in our custody is someone’s son, daughter, brother or sister, and it is an especially heartbreaking tragedy to learn that a loved one has passed away while incarcerated.”

Correction officials said release of his name was being withheld pending family notification.

In 2021, 16 people died in city custody.

Last week, a Manhattan federal judge approved Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to regain control of Rikers Island, which has been mired in dysfunction that has forced staff to work double and triple shifts while inmates lack basic safety and security.

Advocates cited the death as further evidence of the need for a federal court takeover of the city jails, as well as a dramatic reduction of the jail population.

“This latest death is beyond words — and beyond belief. This continuing humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored by the city, by prosecutors and judges, and by lawmakers in every level of government. We need decarceration now for the safety of our loved ones and neighbors,” Victor Pate, co-director of the HALT solitary campaign, said in a statement.

“Another death. No one can deny any longer that stepping foot on Rikers is a potential death sentence. The people responsible — mayor, DOC commish, DA that asked for bail — will call it a tragedy while refusing to take the action that will save lives,” wrote City Councilwoman Tiffany Caban, D-Queens.