Inmate dies in NYC DOC custody as lawmakers call for fix to ‘humanitarian crisis’

Local News

NEW YORK — An inmate in custody of the New York City Department of Corrections died Wednesday morning, officials told PIX11 News.

“I am devastated to see that we have yet another death in custody, and determined to stop this heartbreaking trend,” said Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi in a statement. “We are doing all we can to remedy the unprecedented crisis we are experiencing in our jails. My thoughts and prayers are with the individual’s loved ones.”

DOC officials said the person was in custody at the Vernon C. Bain Center and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 10:50 a.m.

The cause of death remains under investigation and the victim’s identity has not yet been released.

So far this year, 11 inmates have died in DOC custody, a spokesperson told PIX11 Wednesday afternoon. A 12th inmate who died while at the hospital had been granted compassionate release by the court between his hospitalization and his death.

Tuesday, members of New York’s Congressional delegation called for the release of inmates on Rikers Island over “deplorable” conditions that have come to the forefront of local politics in the last several weeks.

Rikers Island has frequently and for years been maligned for its dangerous conditions for staff and inmates; several city leaders have long-supported a plan to close the Rikers Island jail facility in favor of smaller borough-based jails.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed health and safety concerns at Rikers Wednesday, along with the calls from Congressional leaders to release inmates, saying it would be a public safety issue to do so. However, he once again called for Rikers’ closure and identified the conditions at the jail facility as a key issue for the city.

The Vernon C. Bain Center is a jail barge located off the southern shore of the Bronx.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has called on Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio to visit Rikers so they can witness firsthand the conditions staff and inmates are experiencing.

Clarification: This story was updated to include new information from DOC regarding the number of inmate deaths while in department custody in 2021.

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