A 35-year-old man incarcerated at Rikers Island died Wednesday, marking the 14th death of someone who had been held in city custody this year and the 30th since the beginning of 2021.
Kevin Bryan’s death is under investigation. At the time of publication, the city medical examiner had not yet determined a cause of death.
Bryan had been held at Rikers for less than a week on a $5,003 bail on burglary charges, records show.
The death comes after the regulatory body overseeing city jails, the city Board of Correction, released a report this week detailing how officers’ failure to check on cells, render first aid, and escort incarcerated people to medical appointments had a role in at least six suicides and four drug overdoses inside Rikers’ walls last year.
“We are very distressed to hear about the death of another person in custody,” Correction Commissioner Louis A. Molina said in a statement. “Our deepest condolences go out to this individual’s loved ones. We will conduct a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding this death for which we grieve.”
The mother of Brandon Rodriguez, who died by suicide at Rikers last year, released a statement through the advocacy organization Freedom Agenda saying that it seemed as though city officials did not care about the continued deaths. “Doing nothing equals more death,” she said. “The humans on Rikers are screaming for help. Is anybody going to help them?”
Advocates and attorneys for the incarcerated are seeking a federal takeover of the city’s jails, saying officials cannot keep detainees safe. Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, could request such a federal monitor. He visited Rikers Island this week. A judge could consider a formal takeover recommendation as early as November.
Meanwhile, the city jail population is ballooning. There are about 5,712 people currently in Department of Correction custody, according to Comptroller Brad Lander, up 9% since the beginning of the year, when Mayor Eric Adams directed the NYPD to curb crime with more arrests.
Rikers is slated to close in 2027 and be replaced by smaller jails in the boroughs. But the total capacity of those jails will be 3,300 people, which has advocates worried that the city will keep Rikers open indefinitely.