Statement: Suicide Attempt Brings Spotlight to New York’s Outdated Parole System and the Need to Speed Up Process to Shut Down Rikers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 4, 2019

Contact:

Yan Snead, ysnead@katalcenter.org | 609.680.8185

 

Suicide Attempt Brings Spotlight to New York’s Outdated Parole System and the Need to Speed Up Process to Shut Down Rikers

 

Meaningful #LessIsMoreNY Parole Reform is Critical to Closing Rikers Island – Albany Must Act Immediately

 

New York, NY – This morning the New York Times released a shocking report: last week 18-year-old Nicholas Feliciano, detained on Rikers Island for a violation of parole, attempted suicide as at least four New York City correctional officers – one of whom was a Supervisor – stood by and failed to act for seven minutes. Feliciano is currently in the Elmhurst Hospital Prison War on a respirator with no brain activity, according to city jail records.

This tragedy, apparently caused by shocking neglect of on-duty correctional officers, is yet another example of the inhumane conditions on Rikers Island and the urgent need to shutter the facility. It also spotlights the pressing need for reforms to New York State’s deeply broken parole system. The only population of people increasing on Rikers Island are people detained not for new criminal charges, but for technical violations of parole supervision. According to the Times, Nicholas Feliciano was detained on Rikers Island for a technical violation of parole. More than 600 people are detained on Rikers today, and thousands more are in state prison for simple technical violations such as missing an appointment or being late for curfew. We do not yet know the nature of the violation for which Feliciano was detained, but we do know people should not be detained for technical violations of parole. Nicholas Feliciano should not have been in a cage on Rikers, and frankly no one should be detained there at all.

 

Statement by Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice:

“Our parole system – initially put in place to help people successfully transition back into their communities following incarceration -- is ruining lives and killing people. Nicholas Feliciano should not be in a hospital bed right now. Jose Rivera should still be alive and here with us. They should both still be home with their families and loved ones working towards successfully rebuilding their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Nicholas Feliciano, and we hope for a speedy and full recovery. Passage of our Less Is More parole reform legislation is essential to reducing the population on Rikers and would ensure a speedier closure process. This bill will not only provide physical freedom to thousands of people by not sending them to jail for things that are not crimes, but will also give people the mental freedom to live their lives without the threat of a violation constantly lingering over their heads. Lawmakers in Albany failed to deliver on transformative parole reform this year, but they MUST act now. Albany must urgently pass our Less Is More bill and make it law in 2020 to stop people from being unjustly reincarcerated for technical violations and swiftly bring about the closure of Rikers once and for all.”

 

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