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Federal Judge Again Considering Takeover of NYC's Rikers Island Jail

A federal judge is again considering taking over New York City’s Rikers Island jail system, the Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain described her faith in its leadership as “shaken” after reports of violence, injuries and a lack of cooperation that have avoided court oversight. A federal monitor overseeing the jail system outlined a pattern of incidents, including detainee deaths and injuries, that jail officials did not report as required last month. The monitor said the city’s jails commissioner personally lobbied him not to issue publicly a report on those findings.


In response, Swain ordered attorneys for detainees and the city to discuss a potential receivership structure, an extraordinary intervention that would end New York City’s control over one of the nation’s largest and most famous jails. Swain said she would consider the proposal in August. She also ordered the city to notify the monitor immediately any time someone dies or suffers a serious injury in custody, rebuking jail officials for flouting reporting requirements put in place under a 2015 federal consent decree. Advocates for detainees say a federal receivership is necessary to stem the violence on Rikers Island. In addition to her concerns about reporting, the judge also called out efforts by city leaders “to shape public opinion and public perception on these very serious issues.”

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