Tag Archives: Rikers Island

Rand Paul Uses Kalief Browder As An Example Of The Need For Criminal Justice Reform

During a fundraiser in Baltimore County on Tuesday, GOP Presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul addressed current issues with criminal justice in the United States, and urged Maryland Republicans to think about why many African Americans mistrust the justice system.

Paul brought up the story of Kalief Browder, an African American who recently committed suicide, after spending three years in a jail at Riker’s Island, without trial. Browder was arrested in 2010, when he was 16, for allegedly stealing a backpack, and because he wasn’t able to make bail, he stayed at Riker’s until his case was dismissed.

I’ve been telling this story for about a year and a half, two years now,” Paul said. “It makes me sad. I thought about not telling the story again. But I think this young man’s memory should help us to try to change things. He died this weekend. He committed suicide. His name was Kalief Browder. He was a 16-year-old teenager from the Bronx. He was arrested, accused of a crime, and sent to Rikers.”

The New York Times noted that during his time at Rikers, Browder suffered psychological trauma from spending nearly two of the three years in solitary confinement, and physical trauma as a result of several beatings, including one incident when Browder was “brutally assaulted by a guard.

As Truth In Media previously reported, the Department of Justice released a report in Aug. 2014, which concluded that corrections officers at Riker’s Island “regularly violated the constitutional rights of teenage prisoners by consistently and swiftly resorting to violence in their handlings with them.”

“Are we going to let you be raped and murdered and pillaged before you’ve been convicted?” Paul asked. “He wasn’t even convicted! So when I see people angry and upset, I’m not here to excuse violence in the cities, but when I see people angry, I see where some of the anger is coming from.”

Paul said that although he can’t personally relate, looking at the odds young black men currently face in the US has helped him to understand the unrest and frustration felt by young men such as Browder.

“This young man, 16 years old,” Paul said. “Imagine how his classmates feel about American justice. Imagine how his parents feel. So the thing is until you walk in someone else’s shoes, I think we shouldn’t say that we can’t understand the anger of people.

Paul also said that he holds the Democrats accountable for the current conditions, and he believes they have “utterly failed our inner cities, and utterly failed the poor.”

“A lot of these policies came from Bill Clinton,” Paul said. “In Ferguson, for every 100 black women, there are 60 black men. That’s because 40 are incarcerated. Am I saying they did nothing wrong and it’s all racism? No. What I am telling you is that white kids don’t get the same justice.”

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Lawsuit Alleges Jail Guards Allowed To Rape Women In NYC Prison

By Casey Harper

A new lawsuit alleges rampant sexual abuse at an all women’s jail facility in New York.

A Rikers Island corrections officer and the city of New York face a federal lawsuit from two female inmates alleging that the guard was allowed to repeatedly rape them and that the city didn’t do enough to stop it, CNN reports.

The class action suit filed Tuesday by two women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, claims that 8 corrections officers total were involved in sexually abusing inmates at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center.

The women claim the rampant sexual abuse was known by many but not stopped. Jane Doe 2 says she reported the rapes to a mental health professional but nothing was done. The suit also claims that one woman was impregnated by her rapist.

The officer allegedly took the women to areas out of the view of security cameras and timed it so supervisors would not be around.

When one inmate reported that she was raped, the officer allegedly let other inmates out of their cells to go torment the woman. He also allegedly threatened the family of one woman outside the jail.

The suit cited a 2012 Department of Justice survey which says 5.9 percent of inmates at the Rose M. Singer Center claim they were sexually abused by staff.

“Sexual violence is at record proportions in DOC, and rape and other sexual abuse of women are endemic at the Rose M. Singer Center,” Seymour W. James, the attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society, told CNN.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants to reduce the jail’s population by clearing the backlog of state court cases. As of March, 400 people had been in the jail for over two years without being convicted of a crime.

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Civil rights probe launched into death of Rikers Island inmate

The death of an inmate at the New York prison Rikers Island has caused a watchdog agency within the state to seek for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the death.

Bradley Ballard, 39, was being housed at Rikers Island when he was found dead in his cell on Sept. 11, 2013. At the time of his death, Ballard was found naked in his cell, covered in fecal matter, and had an infection brought on by a piece of cloth tied to his genitals.

According to the Huffington Post, Ballard was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic as well as a diabetic, but he had been denied his insulin medication for six days which was one reason Ballard had died. Reports also say for those six days, Ballard was also denied food and water.

A report by the New York State Commission of Corrections, which has not been made public yet, reportedly says gross incompetence on the behalf of medical and prison staff brought about the circumstances leading to Ballard’s death.

According to Reuters, the prison warden, guards, and other staff visited Ballard’s cell 57 times over the six day period but did nothing to assist Ballard. The smell of infection though caused one guard to take notice of Ballard’s cell long enough for the guard to spray deodorizer outside the cell, but the guard never went in the cell.

Correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, told the New York Times, “We continue to investigate and have adjusted our practices to ensure that a similar tragedy does not happen again.” Ponte would not say whether any officers were being disciplined for the death however.

The medical examiner ruled Ballard’s death a homicide since his death could have been prevented if he were given his medication. The official cause of death is said to be diabetic ketoacidosis which results when a person’s body does not have enough insulin and the body begins to breakdown fat instead.

City officials have released a statement saying since Ballard’s death, jail staff and medical workers have undergone more training on how to communicate better with inmates.

Department Of Justice Report Reveals “Rampant Use Of Unnecessary And Excessive Force” On Teen Inmates

New York- A report released by the Department Of Justice on Monday detailed the results of an investigation surrounding the practices of corrections officers regarding treatment of adolescent inmates at Rikers Island. The report, focused on events between 2011 and 2013, concluded that corrections officers regularly violated the constitutional rights of teenage prisoners by consistently and swiftly resorting to violence in their handlings with them. New York and North Carolina are the only two states that automatically charge teens 16 and older as adults.

Not only did the report criticize the liberal use of force on the teens- nearly 44% of the youth were subjected to use of force by the officers- it also exposed the fact that many investigations into such incidents were corrupted or inadequate. It was found that corrections officers often used a phrase- “hold it down”- to warn inmates against reporting abuse.

In addition to excessive violence from the corrections officers, it was found that the they were also using “punitive segregation”- solitary confinement as punishment- far too often and for long periods of time, sometimes subjecting inmates to months of segregation.

Many of the teen inmates at Rikers suffer from mental health issues; according to the report, in the year of 2013 51% of the incarcerated youth were diagnosed with mental illnesses.

The report also showed a startling number of incidents of inmates fighting one another; in 2013, there were 845 reports of inmate-on-inmate fights within two facilities that hold most of the youth inmates. In 2012, there were 795 reports.

In a press release, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara pointed out that many of the inmates are awaiting trial and have not yet been proven guilty of committing crimes. “As our investigation has shown, for adolescents, Rikers Island is a broken institution. It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails. The adolescents in Rikers are walled off from the public, but they are not walled off from the Constitution. Indeed most of these young men are pre-trial detainees who are innocent until proven guilty, but whether they are pre-trial or convicted, they are entitled to be detained safely and in accordance with their Constitutional rights – not consigned to a corrections crucible that seems more inspired by Lord of the Flies than any legitimate philosophy of humane detention,” read the release.

The report showed multiple examples of brutal and unnecessary force on the inmates used by New York City’s Department of Corrections, and also pointed out failures to report instances of excessive force, resulting “in a culture in which staff feel empowered to use force inappropriately, in ways that go outside the bounds of written policies, because they know they are unlikely to face any meaningful consequences.” In one detailed incident:

“The inmates and one officer were working in the trailer and got into a verbal confrontation. The officer grabbed Inmate M by his neck, slammed his face into a concrete wall, and then began to repeatedly punch him. The officer reported that he had been jumped and called for backup. Soon thereafter, several other officers, including probe team members, arrived and brutally assaulted the four inmates, punching and kicking them and striking them with radios, batons, and broomsticks. This continued for several minutes after the inmates had been subdued and handcuffed. The probe team then took the inmates to holding pens in the clinic intake area where they were handcuffed and beaten again by several DOC Gang Intelligence Unit members, who repeatedly punched and kicked them while they were handcuffed and slammed them against cell walls.”

This incident was one of several detailed in the investigation.

The report outlined several measures considered necessary to remedy the violations, including a call for more surveillance cameras, separating the teens from Rikers Island, revising the use of force policy, and implementing an environment where violence is not tolerated and the staff is held accountable for abuse. Bharara said the city has been allowed 49 days to respond.

The report is available in full here.