“The Federal Monitor’s latest report detailing recent incidents of violence and deaths within city jails was jarring and illustrated repeated failure by the Department of Correction (DOC) to notify the Monitor of serious incidents in a timely manner. Rather than pursuing accountability and reform, the Department’s response has outrageously and unacceptably been to declare it will no longer provide public information about when someone dies in its custody.
“It cannot be ignored that this latest response comes after the Commissioner pushed for the Monitor to not release its May 26 report and has restricted the Board of Correction’s unimpeded access to Rikers CCTV and body camera footage. This now represents a continuing pattern of disregard for oversight, transparency, and accountability.
“The Commissioner must understand that it is not public awareness of the incidents that occur at Rikers that harm the Department’s reputation but rather the events themselves, the circumstances that lead to them, and the response thereafter under his leadership.
“The Council continues to consider legislative solutions to address this Administration’s backtracking on transparency and undermining of oversight at DOC. We urge the court at the next status conference to seriously consider the strongest interventions necessary to remedy the conditions that continue to permit these incidents on Rikers and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in our city jails.”