Queens Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, The Legal Aid Society, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York County Defender Services, and The Bronx Defenders released the following joint statement in response to reporting in Gothamist concerning 719 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse in New York City jails under the Adult Survivors Act:


“The harms detailed in these hundreds of lawsuits are appalling and unfortunately consistent with a pattern of abuse experienced by thousands of people incarcerated at Rikers who we have represented over the past several decades. The people who have come forward have taken a courageous step to demand accountability from the Department of Correction. Sadly, people incarcerated at Rikers continue to experience sexual abuse and other horrifying abuses and conditions. We reaffirm our call for a receivership that addresses the deep-seated culture of corruption and disregard for the health and safety of people in DOC custody, and we believe that ultimately decarceration and closing Rikers is imperative to stopping the harm and violence.”


Queens Defenders Executive Director Lori Zeno stated, “We are horrified to read of the allegations of sexual abuse at Rikers Island described in reporting by The Gothamist, and the stories of these brave survivors illustrate a prolific pattern of torture and abuse of women who were held while awaiting trial. Rikers’ notoriety for its reprehensible stewardship of the people it is responsible to house is now clearly known outside the circles of people involved in the criminal legal system.  It is clear that the Department of Corrections has proven itself incapable running a facility that respects the most basic human rights, and it is imperative that the Adams Administration follow through on its obligation to close Rikers Island by 2027.”


Read the full press release here

Read the reporting from Gothamist here.