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A prisoner tried to kill themselves in one of the most notorious jails in the US.
Assembly member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, a Democrat from the Queens district, quickly alerted guards when the male inmate tried to use bedsheets and prison bars as a hanging device in Rikers Island, New York.
It was one of a number of hellish scenes witnessed by visitors, who according to Gonzalez-Rojas found themselves stepping over large puddles of urine.
She later suggested that the man survived the shocking incident, adding: “A man called me over and pointed to someone who jumped up on the bars and tried to use a bedsheet to kill themselves … I called a guard over. I think [the inmate] was OK.”
However, guards did not release any information on the severity of his injuries, or his current condition.
A prison source told the New York Post that suicide attempts were a "regular occurrence". Conditions are so bad that showers are being used to hold prisoners, because so many cells are broken.
Other prisoners were seen to be covered in bleach and coughing up blood in over-capacity cells.
It has been reported that one HIV-positive man has gone days without receiving their medication.
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Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens said the horrifying images confirmed what had been reported to her by friends and family of those being held at the infamous institution.
She said: “These men are desperate for simple medical attention, as simple as measuring their sugar to figure out whether their diabetes is under control or not…. those who need to access the methadone clinic haven’t been able to do so.
“There is all sorts of gunk on the floors everywhere, from dead cockroaches to fecal matter to food sitting there rotting for a long time."
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State Senator Alessandra Biaggi reported fearing for her life when she was mobbed by a crowd of prisoners demanding an improvement in living conditions.
The crisis at Rikers Island has created heated debate in New York over whether the solution is more prison officers, or a reduction in the number of inmates.
Benny Boscio Jr, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association – a union for prison guards and officials – interrupted a press conference held outside the prison to oppose any proposals to release prisoners.
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He said: “Eleven shootings a day, babies getting shot in Times Square, and they want to release more prisoners?
"If we don’t have the resources we need here, that’s why everyone behind the gates is suffering.
“Corrections officers are suffering through 25-hour straight shifts with no meal breaks. Assaults on my members are through the roof.”
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He reported that no new guards have been hired at Rikers Island since January 2019, resulting in a massive shortage in staff. The same year, New York City Council announced plans to close the prison by the start of 2026.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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- Prison News
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