New York Notes

Trouble at Rikers: Notorious Jail Complex’s History of Bad Administration


No matter what kind of person is detained in jails, no human being deserves to be treated inhumanely. Unfortunately, poor administration (to put it nicely) at Rikers has resulted in 19 fatalities. To make things worse, the people who were involved in these deaths faced no disciplinary action or charges. This has caused a major outcry in New York, with people demanding justice and an investigation into the trouble at Rikers.

The death of 39-year-old detainee Edgardo Mejias has sparked trouble at Rikers once again 

Edgardo Mejias is the newest addition to Riker’s long list of victims. There are a lot of wrongs tied to his death because he was detained all this time, so he couldn’t possibly have been murdered by fellow inmates. 

So what could’ve led to the death of this individual? At the moment, the answer to this question remains a mystery. 

The Correction Department suspects that Mejias died from an overdose. This would make him the sixth DOC-related death this year at Rikers. 

Prior to his death, Mejias complained of not receiving proper medical treatment during his detainment at Rikers. He suffered from asthma and told his lawyer, Dean Vigliano, about it. 

Vigliano brought this to the attention of Michelle Ford, a Correction Department lawyer. Ford was quick to respond that the New York City Department of Corrections doesn’t provide medical care to its detainees. 

Several activists are quick on their feet regarding this issue and believe that the administration at Rikers swept this incident under the rug, like they did for all the other victims that were held in custody at their facility. 

Who were the victims that succumbed to the unlawful conditions at Rikers?

Just last year alone, 16 people died due to Rikers’ unlawful treatment and living conditions, and to sum up the death toll at this inhumane jail with the recent death of Edgardo Mejias, we end up with a body count of 19. 

These are the victim’s names

  1. Tarz Youngblood
  2. George Pagan
  3. Herman Diaz
  4. Dashawn Carter
  5. Mary Yehudah
  6. Emmanuel Sullivan
  7. Anibal Carrasquillo 
  8. Albert Drye
  9. Antonio Bradley 
  10. Elijah Muhammad
  11. Michael Lopez
  12. Ricardo Cruciani
  13. Michael Nieves
  14. Kevin Bryan
  15. Gregory Acevedo 
  16. Elmore Robert Pondexter
  17. Erick Tavira 
  18. Gilberto Garcia
  19. Edgardo Mejias

What makes Rikers the center of controversy? 

The fact that Rikers treats its inmates in an inhumane, unlawful, and blatantly abusive manner is just one of the many reasons why it is a contentious jail. There are reports of correction officers not monitoring the inmates, inmates not being given proper medical aid, inattentive and uncaring correction officers, and the list just goes on and on. 

This is how Rikers demonstrates that it’s a system that consistently fails to protect its inmates. 

Is there an end to Riker’s reign of terror? 

New York City mayor Eric Adams decided to postpone Rikers Island’s closure until 2027, even though it was originally supposed to end in 2026. Due to cost, construction variability, and additional facilities, there is a chance that this date will change again.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.