A federal monitor overseeing New York City jails is sounding the alarm on the brutal conditions inside Rikers Island. In a letter, the monitor said violence at Rikers had skyrocketed this summer, and warned of a “high level of disorder and chaos,” as well as a shortage of staff and lack of basic services for incarcerated people, including access to medical care. The letter also reported at least four suicides since December 2020, neglect during the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating use of force by officers.
In related news, the Justice Department has announced it plans to shut down New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center — the jail where convicted serial rapist Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in 2019 of an apparent suicide. The DOJ said the closure might be temporary while it addresses the squalid and dangerous conditions inside the jail.