Legal Aid Society


LAS Files Second Contempt Motion Against Department of Correction

The Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services and Milbank LLP filed a motion in Agnew v. New York City Department of Correction (DOC), requesting the court hold DOC in contempt for its past and ongoing failure to provide incarcerated New Yorkers access to medical care and award a $250 fine for each missed medical appointment from February to October 2022, totaling over $3.08 million.

In that time period, there were at least 12,354 instances of denial of access to medical care due to DOC’s failure to provide sufficient escorts to bring class members to medical appointments and failure to provide adequate space and security at the clinics. This does not include the many other missed medical appointments that were due to other DOC administrative failures.

In the event that DOC continues to fail to provide access to medical care, the motion asks the Court to grant an evidentiary hearing to determine the maximum number of people for whom DOC can safely provide access to medical care.

This is the second contempt motion in this action addressing DOC’s failure to follow the Court’s December 2021 order requiring DOC to provide and not delay access to medical services for New Yorkers in the city jails. The first motion resulted in a May 2022 finding of contempt and an August 2022 order directing DOC to pay roughly $200,000 in fines.

“Despite having already been held in contempt by a court, DOC has denied thousands more people access to medical appointments, and the Department must be held in contempt once again for its continued failure to abide by explicit legal obligations and various court orders,” reads a statement from Legal Aid and it’s partners. “People in the jails continue to suffer countless harms from delay and outright denial of access to injury care, chronic care, and critical medications, contributing to the highest death rate in DOC facilities in over 25 years.”

“Given the DOC’s persistent unwillingness to ensure the health and safety of people in its custody, all criminal legal stakeholders must work to facilitate the decarceration of local jails immediately,” the statement continues.