Legal Aid Society


Court Issues Emergency Order to Address Humanitarian Crisis in City Jails

The Legal Aid Society announced that the federal court in Nunez v. City of New York has issued an emergency order requiring immediate changes in the New York City jails to address the current humanitarian crisis in the facilities, as reported by PIX11 News.

The order in the case comes in response to an emergency request by Legal Aid filed last week, detailing the extraordinary risk of harm facing people in city jails and calling for immediate action from the City and the federal court.

The order requires the City, among other things, to:

  • place a mandatory 24-hour cap on the time people can be housed in intake facilities, to address the problem of warehousing people in inhumane conditions, and require the City to track and report to the Court on how long people stay in intake;
  • ensure staff follow strict suicide prevention protocols;
  • report back to the court with an immediate interim security plan that addresses the gross deficiencies in basic security practices in the Department such as staff abandoning posts, failing to lock doors, and failing to supervise people in custody;
  • launch a process to allow hiring of facility leadership from outside of DOC ranks, so that hiring is not limited to current DOC staff.

In addition, the order sets a timetable for reporting to the court on the implementation of these steps, including a process for appointing an outside head of security for the jails.

“This order is a necessary and important step, requiring the City to take actions we have been urging for years,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “And if the City is unable to comply with this order and show immediate improvements to safety and security in the jail, we will be back in court as often as is necessary to hold the de Blasio Administration accountable.”

We will continue to use every tool we have to protect our clients,” Luongo continued. “Lastly, this order should not supplant the need to decarcerate local jails, and we again call on Governor Hochul, Mayor de Blasio and local District Attorneys to prioritize that effort.”