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Calls Grow Louder for Federal Takeover of NYC’s Troubled Rikers Island Jail

Photo Credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Bloomberg: Fola Akinnibi - October 13, 2022

A federal judge overseeing reforms at the New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex should remove control of the troubled facility from the city, said Comptroller Brad Lander.

Lander is the highest-ranking citywide official to make such a recommendation, and it sets him on a collision course with Mayor Eric Adams, who has resisted calls to remove control of the jail from the city.

The comptroller said New York is unable to implement the changes needed to address violence, missed medical appointments, staff absenteeism and deaths in custody. Instead, he recommended that the judge appoint a third-party administrator, or receiver, to run the system, where 16 people have died in custody at so far this year.

“A receiver will not be able to magically fix what has been broken at Rikers for decades,” Lander said in remarks at a virtual forum on the jail crisis hosted by Columbia Law School on Thursday. “But a receiver would be empowered to make decisions that the city has failed to adequately contend with for many years, whether by lack of will or through inability due to legal, regulatory or other barriers.”

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