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Court Holds Department of Correction in Contempt Over Access to Medical Care

The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Milbank LLP lauded a court order which finds the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) in contempt of a December order issued in Agnew v. New York City Department of Correction. 

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. In December, a judge ordered the City to provide incarcerated New Yorkers with access to medical care, but the Department failed to meet that obligation.

Today’s order gives 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, meaning the City would owe approximately $190,900 to the people affected by the jails’ broken medical care system. There is also the possibility of further sanctions if the City continues to fail to comply.

“Today, the Court acknowledged the City’s egregious ongoing failure to fulfill its obligation to provide incarcerated people with timely access to medical care,” reads a statement from Legal Aid, BDS, and Milbank. “This failure has caused undue suffering, resulting in long-lasting health impacts and even death. We hope this contempt finding provides some relief to people denied access to the medical care they desperately need.” 

“But our clients deserve much more. Today’s order holds the City accountable for its remarkable failures to ensure the health and safety of the people in its custody,” the statement continues. “DOC has proven time and time again that it lacks the capacity and the willingness to respect basic human rights. The only solution is decarceration. To that end, we urge all elected officials and judges to do everything in their power to immediately remove people from the inhumane and dangerous conditions of the City jails.”