Legal Aid Society


LAS Renews Call for Receivership of City Jails

The Legal Aid Society has declared its intention to pursue a motion for receivership of City jails in order to end the ongoing humanitarian crisis that is plaguing incarcerated New Yorkers.

The move comes after an emergency status conference in response to yet another damning report by federal monitor Steve Martin filed which details five “serious and disturbing incidents involving harm to incarcerated persons.” The monitor has been in place since 2015 as the result of Nunez v. City of New York, litigation brought by Legal Aid concerning brutality and excessive force in New York City jails.

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. Legal Aid and co-counsel intend to continue pursuing their request for the appointment of a receiver, following the procedural steps laid out by the Court to take place in July and August, 2023.

“The Department of Correction has had nearly eight years to bring the City jails into compliance with the federal court’s orders, but conditions today are indeed worse than they were when the court ordered improvements in 2015, compounded by the City’s so-called action plan that has utterly failed to secure the progress that officials promised,” said Mary Lynne Werlwas, Director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project at The Legal Aid Society.

“Between rampant excessive force, an astonishing number of deaths and serious injuries, and the Department’s untruthfulness and efforts to shield its incompetence from outside eyes, only an independent entity such as a receiver can deliver on what the City was unable to accomplish,” she continued. “Absent a radical turn-around that the City has time and again demonstrated a lack of capacity or willingness to fulfill, we fully intend to pursue a motion for receivership consistent with the court’s directions at today’s conference.”