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NYC’s Adams Touts Progress at Rikers Jail as Deaths in Custody Mount

The fatalities bring the total to eight this year, just as the Department of Correction embarks on a new plan to improve safety at the facility. 

Rikers Island, home to the city’s main jail complex, is under increasing scrutiny after deaths at the facility.

Rikers Island, home to the city’s main jail complex, is under increasing scrutiny after deaths at the facility.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America
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New York Mayor Eric Adams used a media briefing on Rikers Island Wednesday to highlight progress at the jail complex, a day after the death of the eighth person in custody this year called attention to the city’s troubled correctional system.

More than 2,700 weapons — most of them homemade — and contraband have been recovered from Rikers since the end of February, the result of improved staffing and tactical search operations, Adams said at the event. In addition, slashings and stabbings have fallen by 63% since March, and assaults on staff resulting in a use of force have dropped by 30% compared with the comparable six-month period last year, the mayor said.

The death of the detainee on Tuesday marked the second fatality under the Department of Correction’s watch in two days. Nine incarcerated people have died in the city in 2022, including one person who died days after being released, according to the New York Times. The deaths come as the agency is beginning a five-month plan to try to stem violence and unsafe conditions at its facilities.