Rikers inmate dies, becoming 15th NYC prison-system related death this year

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Rikers Island jail

FILE – This March 16, 2011 file photo shows a barbed wire fence outside inmate housing on New York’s Rikers Island correctional facility in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

NEW YORK — A 28-year-old inmate died Friday morning, less than a month after he was initially jailed, officials said.

Malcom Boatwright, who was detained on Rikers Island on Nov. 12, died at an off-site hospital at 5:36 a.m. Before his death, officials said he was being housed at the Anna M. Kross Center, where he “experienced a medical issue.”

“This is a heartbreaking loss at the end of a very difficult year,” Department of Corrections Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said.

Boatwright is the 15th inmate connected to the New York City prison system who has died this year. That total ties the death total from 2016.

The Department of Corrections lists 13 deaths, but does not count two deaths that happened after inmates were granted compassionate release.

Boatwright was arrested on sexual abuse charges. Court records show he had a court appearance on Monday and was also due to be sentenced in a 2013 case.

Melania Brown — the sister of Layleen Polanco, an inmate who died in 2019 — released a statement renewing her call to decarcerate people.

“I’m not surprised because everyone knows the horrors of the jails right now, but I am heartbroken,” Brown said. “Yet another family has to grieve like I do, and during the holidays. … Every official must do everything in their power to stop the crisis of death.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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