New York City jails will no longer announcing deaths behind bars…
Here’s a small bit from the article:
‘But over the past two weeks, the DOC has failed to notify the public about at least two deaths, including those of Rubu Zhao, 52, who died after he allegedly jumped from an upper tier of a specialized unit on Rikers for people with mental illness on May 14, and of Joshua Valles, 31, who died on Saturday suffering from a fractured skull that officials first internally labeled as a heart attack.‘
This seems like very clear corruption, but I’m no expert on heart attacks.
Yep… The crushed skull or heart attack conundrum that’s plagued doctors for ages…
If you are interested, you will find the article below:
The city Department of Correction has abruptly stopped notifying the media when an incarcerated person dies and will no longer do so in the future.
“That was a practice, not a policy,” said new DOC chief spokesperson Frank Dwyer when asked about the lack of public notification about recent deaths behind bars. Dwyer took over the department’s press office a few weeks ago following a similar role at the Fire Department.
Over the past two years, the department’s media team would issue a press release announcing the death of anyone behind bars. The release typically included basic information like the person’s name, housing facility, date and time of death.
But over the past two weeks, the DOC has failed to notify the public about at least two deaths, including those of Rubu Zhao, 52, who died after he allegedly jumped from an upper tier of a specialized unit on Rikers for people with mental illness on May 14, and of Joshua Valles, 31, who died on Saturday suffering from a fractured skull that officials first internally labeled as a heart attack.
Valles had been given a “compassionate” release out of DOC custody days before his death.
The department is taking a step in the wrong direction with its new death notification practice, according to Stanley Richards, who spent time at Rikers as an inmate in the 1980s and later served as the department’s deputy corrections commissioner during the last six months of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration in 2021.
“This administration is going back to the way in which jails were managed decades ago. They are closing ranks,” said Richards, now vice president of the Fortune Society, a nonprofit that seeks to help current and formerly incarcerated people.
“I think it’s part of a series of attempts to isolate the jails from scrutiny to control the narrative,” said Kayla Simpson, staff attorney with the Prisoners’ Rights Project at The Legal Aid Society.
Under the Adams administration, the department has also blocked real-time video surveillance access from Rikers and other city lockups to members of the Board of Correction, which oversees the agency.
Dwayne Sampson, the new chair of the board appointed by Mayor Eric Adams in September, also attempted unsuccessfully to reduce the number of public meetings annually from nine to six.
Dwyer noted that all jail deaths are reported to the department’s health affairs unit, special investigation team, chaplain and legal team.
The city’s medical examiner is also contacted as well as the state Attorney General’s office and the state’s Commission of Correction, Dwyer added.
Monitor in the Dark
The change in the DOC’s death disclosures comes as the federal monitor overseeing the department has criticized Correction Commissioner Louis Molina and his team for failing to properly inform them about a recent death — and four other “serious and disturbing incidents involving harm to incarcerated persons.”
In a special report released Friday, federal monitor Steve Martin wrote he had to rely on media reports, including one from THE CITY about a detainee who had been placed on a ventilator for two weeks and is now paralyzed from the neck down after being tackled by guards.
Molina had tried to keep the special report under wraps, telling Martin it would “cause great harm to the department when we are making great strides.” He also argued it would “fuel the flames of those who believe we cannot govern ourselves,” the report said.
On Wednesday, federal judge Laura Taylor Swain, who has overseen the long-running case that installed the monitor, scheduled a special hearing in two weeks to address concerns raised by the monitor.
The Legal Aid Society and other lawyers representing plaintiffs in the Nunez v. City of New York case that led to the monitor’s appointment hailed the new hearing.
“The attempts to hide the shocking brutality described in the Monitor’s reports … cannot be countenanced,” the city’s largest defender organization said in a statement.
Legal Aid, several citywide elected officials, and jail activists have for months been urging Swain to appoint a receiver — an independent manager — to take over the troubled Correction Department.
Also Wednesday, in a new letter to the judge, Martin slammed the department’s handling of Valles’ death. [The City]
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