Legal Aid Society


Court: DOC Must Pay Incarcerated New Yorkers Denied Medical Treatment

The Legal Aid Society is hailing a New York State Supreme Court decision that orders the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) to pay fines to New Yorkers who were denied medical treatment in local jails.

This October, The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Milbank LLP filed a class-action lawsuit against the DOC over its continued failure to provide access to medical care in the City jails. A judge ordered the City to comply with the suit’s demands, but the Department failed to meet that obligation.

In May, the court found DOC in contempt and gave the City 30 days to demonstrate that it is no longer violating the Court’s order or face a $100 fine for each medical appointment missed from December 11, 2021 through January 2022.

In June, DOC submitted an affidavit to the Court claiming that it had complied with the order. Today, however, the Court determined that DOC has not shown substantial compliance with the order, and ordered DOC to pay roughly $200,000 in fines to the people affected by the jails’ broken medical care system.

“The Department of Correction has continuously and egregiously failed to fulfill its lawful and moral obligation to provide access to needed medical appointments for people incarcerated in NYC jailsa failure that has led to undue suffering and death,” reads a statement from Legal Aid and its partners. “Today’s court order is one critical step towards holding the City accountable for its unwillingness to ensure the health and safety of people incarcerated in its jails.”

“We hope this ordered compensation provides some relief to people denied the care they desperately need, but we know that much more must be done,” the statement continues. “New York City jails have killed eleven people this year, and we fear that without decarceration, this number will sadly only grow. We reaffirm our calls to urge the courts, prosecutors, and elected officials to use every tool to remove people from the dangerous and deadly conditions of these jails.”