A recently published report has revealed how staff members are partially to blame for the deaths of nine inmates on Rikers Island. The report, from the New York City Board of Correction, has placed the blame for the deaths of the inmates on staff members at the facility, alleging the inmates did not make the medical visits they were supposed to. This indirectly affected the inmates and played a role in their deaths.
Family members who lost their loved ones at Rikers island protested earlier this year, demanding that the prison be closed and that solitary confinement is abolished. Haydeth Tavira questioned why her son, Erick Tavira, had not received the supervision his condition warranted. She asked, “They arrest him at the hospital when he needed the medicine. Why didn’t they provide the medicine?” Erick Tavira committed suicide in a mental observation unit on Rikers Island. The mental observation he was in was not assigned a suicide prevention aide and the correction officer on duty did not check on him every 15 minutes as required. According to the New York Times, no one checked on Tavira for an hour. Tavira had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia before his death.
Rikers Island has faced a multitude of controversies over the past few years. The main talking point has been the number of deaths occurring in the prison complex. 18 people have died in the prison complex this year while 16 died last year. This has led to calls for control of the prison to be taken away from the city and shifted to the federal government. A judge gave the city time to fix the problems on Rikers Island. Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina agreed with that ruling. “I believe that the team we built at this department is a team the department has never had and are fully focused on this issue, and with time we will be turning this department around,” Molina said. Commissioner Molina has been implicated in controversial incidents that have been reported on by LittleAfrica News.