Legal Aid Society


LAS Mourns Michael Lopez, 11th New Yorker to Pass in DOC Custody This Year

The Legal Aid Society is mourning the loss of Michael Lopez, a client who passed while in Department of Correction (DOC) custody on Rikers Island. He is the 11th New Yorker to die in DOC custody this year.

“Our hearts ache for Mr. Lopez’s family, friends and community,” reads a statement from Legal Aid. “There are simply no more words to express the sadness and anger that all New Yorkers should feel today.”

“Mayor Adams, DOC Commissioner Molina, District Attorneys and judges are responsible for these deaths, and their continued decisions to send people into dangerous conditions, and inability to address the root causes of that danger, amount to a refusal to recognize our clients as human beings,” the statement continues. “Mr. Lopez was caged at Rikers Island over crimes of poverty. He was held in an observation unit charged with ensuring his safety, yet he was still deprived of the services that he needed and deserved. Had Mr. Lopez been spared detention, he would have been connected to programming, and he would be alive today.”

“Regular deaths have become the status quo in DOC. The inability of the Adams administration to take immediate and bold action further demonstrates that they cannot be trusted to run the jails one day longer and the appointment of a receiver remains necessary,” reads the statement. “While these issues are addressed in the court system, Mayor Adams and Commissioner Molina must declare their own jail system patently unsafe and join our call for the wholesale decarceration of these facilities.”