NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City’s Department of Correction will no longer notify the public when a person dies in their custody on Rikers Island. 

“The Commissioner wants to respect those who have transitioned while also continuing to be as transparent as possible,” the Department of Correction said in a statement to PIX11 News.

Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision Thursday, saying he supports Commissioner Louis Molina “to do the job I hired him to do.”

The change in practice by the DOC came under fire after 19 people died in jail custody in 2022. 

“They have to fix this problem, and hiding it is not fixing it,” said Lezandre Khadu, whose son died in a city jail in 2021.

“This is a moment of extraordinary crisis within the jails where people are dying and being severely harmed at shocking levels,” said Legal Aid Society Staff Attorney Kayla Simpson. 

On Saturday, 31-year-old Joshua Valles died after he was rushed to the hospital from Rikers. Attorney Stan German says he was initially told Valles died of a heart attack.

“The autopsy reveals a fractured skull,” German said.

PIX11 News reached out to the Department of Correction, who sent a statement.

All appropriate internal investigations and required notifications to oversight and outside agencies always take place immediately. Next of kin and the deceased individual’s legal counsel are notified as well.

The Department of Correction Spokesperson