Legal Aid Society


Federal Prosecutor Calls for Independent Leadership on Rikers

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is calling for a receivership of local jails, as reported by The New York Times.

“Rikers Island has been in crisis for years. This is a collective failure with deep roots, spanning multiple mayoral administrations and DOC commissioners,” a statement from Williams reads in part. “But after eight years of trying every tool in the toolkit, we cannot wait any longer for substantial progress to materialize. That is why my Office will seek a court-appointed receiver to address the conditions on Rikers Island.”

In the past, receiverships have been used to address issues in the nation’s worst jails including the District of Columbia Jail in the mid-90s, Michigan’s Wayne County Jail in the late 80s, and Alabama’s entire prison system in the 1970s.

The Legal Aid Society has long been a proponent of receivership as the only available means to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in City jails.

“We applaud the federal government’s statement today calling for appointment of an independent receiver to bring the City jails into compliance with the law,” reads a statement from Legal Aid. “Too many lives have been lost and damaged due to the City’s inability to manage the jails humanely. We look forward to working together to seek the relief necessary to end this culture of brutality.”