Another death at Rikers Island as mental health needs go unaddressed

By LOUIS FLORES

Fabian Cruz, an inmate who was not placed on suicide watch as ordered at Rikers Island, took his own life Thursday, in a continuation of troubles at the correctional facility, The New York Post reported.

Mr. Cruz avoided physician orders that he be placed in a special observation unit for constant care by reportedly talking his way out of it with a correctional guard, a violation of protocols, because inmates are not allowed to decide for themselves where they are detained within the jail complex.

Patterns of violations involving mental healthcare at Rikers Island have come to the attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district, where the top prosecutor, Preet Bharara, has spearheaded a federal investigation into such shortcomings and the use of brutality, as they pertain to adolescent inmates.  The U.S. Attorney's Office is expected to join a lawsuit demanding court-ordered reforms at Rikers Island after the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) moved too slowly to implement fundamental and lasting changes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill last week that would have allowed Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to oversee jurisdiction of criminal and misconduct cases at Rikers Island.  Correctional officers lobbied for D.A. Brown to take over jurisdiction in an effort to escape accountability, because D.A. Brown has an emerging reputation for never prosecuting cases of crimes or misconduct committed by law enforcement officials, some police reform activists say.  D.A. Brown, seen above, as he entered City Hall for a meeting last November with Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Source :  NY1 Screen Shot

Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill last week that would have allowed Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to oversee jurisdiction of criminal and misconduct cases at Rikers Island.  Correctional officers lobbied for D.A. Brown to take over jurisdiction in an effort to escape accountability, because D.A. Brown has an emerging reputation for never prosecuting cases of crimes or misconduct committed by law enforcement officials, some police reform activists say.  D.A. Brown, seen above, as he entered City Hall for a meeting last November with Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Source :  NY1 Screen Shot

Press officials at City Hall refused to comment about either Mr. Cruz's suicide or the on-going problems delivering psychiatric healthcare at Rikers Island, where it is estimated that up to 40 per cent. of inmates have mental health needs.

Last week's suicide at Rikers Island followed a veto issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) of a bill that would have undercut efforts at reforms by allowing Rikers Island to transfer jurisdiction over misconduct cases from the District Attorney's Office in The Bronx to Queens, according to another report in The New York Post.  

The District Attorney for The Bronx, Robert Johnson, is seen as more aggressive in prosecuting cases of crimes committed at Rikers Island than the District Attorney for Queens, Richard Brown, the latter who never prosecutes cases of misconduct committed by law enforcement or correctional officers, some government reform activists say.