Despite recently released images showing disturbing conditions at Rikers Island, Mayor Eric Adams on Friday said progress is being made at the notorious jail, implying a federal receivership is unnecessary.
Earlier this week Gothamist published never-before-seen images from inside Rikers — some of them stills from surveillance cameras — that show inmates locked in caged showers, left in soiled pants, or escorting other inmates to receive aid when officers weren't present.
Asked about the images at an unrelated news conference, Adams said he hadn't seen them, referring to stills as “the video.”
“There's not much I know about it, but we're gonna look into any allegation of inappropriate behavior and make sure it's done right,” Adams said.
The publication of the images comes amid what’s been a deadly year so far in the city's jails, where 16 people have so far died while in custody. It also comes as the New York City Council has introduced a veto-proof bill that would ban solitary confinement at city jails.
In response to advocates calling for a federal receivership, the mayor seemed to imply that having the feds in charge wouldn’t be much of an improvement.
“I say to advocates that believe we need a federal receivership to go to the federal house of detention on Third Avenue,” Adams said, likely referencing the Metropolitan Detention Center on Third Avenue and 29th Street in Brooklyn, which has been marred by poor conditions. “Quality care of individuals who are in custody should be determined by the entities who are responsible. We are responsible [at Rikers.]”
The mayor added that the current federal monitor previously said that the situation at Rikers was seeing improvements. The city submitted a so-called action plan in the spring that was later approved by a federal judge to stave off a federal takeover for the next few months. Some recommendations approved by the federal judge included commitments to installing new cell doors at jail facilities and implementing a more efficient hiring process for correction officers.
“The federal monitor is stating that this administration is moving in the right direction to fix some of those problems that we have witnessed for decades,” Adams said. “And so, I have full confidence in [corrections] commissioner [Louis] Molina to do ... what is right, and we're gonna review and look over any type of evidence of any improper or inappropriate atmospheres.”