Legal Aid Society

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LAS Demands Answers After the Deaths of Two More Incarcerated Clients

The Legal Aid Society condemned Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Louis Molina over the recent deaths of two incarcerated clients, Gregory Acevedo and Robert Pondexter, as reported by The New York Times.

This past Tuesday, Mr. Acevedo, who was detained at the Vernon C. Bain Center near Hunts Point in the Bronx, was found in the East River, where he died later that evening at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens. Mr. Pondexter suffered a catastrophic medical emergency while in DOC custody, and passed away Thursday afternoon.

“Words cannot express our sadness and outrage over the passing of clients Gregory Acevedo and Robert Pondexter, reads a statement from Legal Aid. ” The circumstances surrounding these deaths warrant an immediate investigation and transparency.”

“With each death this year, City Hall and DOC leadership have stonewalled the public and refused to provide timely and accurate information,” the statement continues. “The information provided by the New York City Board of Correction (BOC), the oversight body, suggests a reason City Hall has attempted such authoritarian control of information: the deaths in custody reviewed by BOC show a shocking incompetence and failure of DOC to carry out basic correctional duties.”

Legal Aid reiterated its calls for a federal receivership and for all criminal legal system stakeholders, especially District Attorneys, to facilitate the immediate decarceration of local jails.

“Mayor Adams and Commissioner Molina have demonstrated that they will not or cannot keep people safe in local jails,” the statement reads. “They have forfeited any claim of legitimate authority to incarcerate, and broken the public trust, underscoring the need for appointment of a receiver and a complete overhaul of this agency and its entrenched culture of incompetence and violence.”

Legal Aid is also decrying reported attempts by Commissioner Molina to cynically push Mr. Pondexter from DOC custody while he was on life support to avoid further negative press on deaths in custody.