Legal Aid Society


City Fails to Ensure Access to Medical Services for Incarcerated New Yorkers

The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Milbank LLP filed a motion for contempt in Agnew v. New York City Department of Correction in Bronx Supreme Court today, following an admission by the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) that the agency is not complying with a December court order to provide basic access to medical care for incarcerated New Yorkers, as reported by The New York Times.

The admission came in an affidavit signed by DOC Bureau Chief of Facility Operations, which reads in part: “In my opinion, I believe this rate of production does not constitute substantial compliance with the pertinent directives to provide timely access to the clinics.”

In data accompanying the affidavit, DOC reported that there were 7,070 total instances in December alone of people not being produced for medical appointments, which is higher than the rate of October and November 2021, before the Court issued its emergency order. Further, DOC admits that at least 1,061 of those nonproductions were because no DOC escort was available.

“The City’s jails remain in crisis. Thousands of people incarcerated in our jails are suffering and even dying because the New York City Department of Correction consistently fails to provide them with timely access to medical care. Every day, we hear from people that their calls for help go unanswered,” a statement from the plaintiffs reads in part.

“The City has now admitted that DOC is flagrantly violating a court order requiring the agency to address this problem. This is outrageous and illegal,” the statement continues. “The City’s inability and unwillingness to meet basic human needs for the people in its custody reaffirms the urgency to immediately remove people from the inhumane and dangerous conditions of the City jails.”