Many New York families have loved ones in prison and struggle to try to get by without them until their sentence ends. When an inmate's sentence ends, his or her family will be happily reunited with him or her. Unfortunately, though, some families may never experience this joy. Poor prison conditions and negligent employees have caused the deaths of many inmates across the country. Negligent property owners can be held liable for injuries or deaths that occur on their property, even when that property is a state or federally owned prison. One New York mother is struggling with such a situation after the death of her son, a former marine.
The victim, who suffered from mental illness, was arrested for trespassing. At the time of his arrest, he was seeking shelter in a stairwell on a cold night in February. He was placed in an overheated Rikers Island jail cell, where he was left alone for four hours. He was found in a pool of blood with a body temperature of 103 degrees. The New York City government recently reached a $2.25 million dollar settlement with the man's family.
This isn't the first time Rikers Island jail has been in hot water for dangerous property conditions. In August, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released a report detailing the violence and poor management at the prison. Three high ranking officials recently resigned as a result.
A Department of Correction spokesman says that the safety of the inmates at Rikers is a top priority and that they have taken action to prevent future tragedies. However, these corrective actions will do little for those who have already been harmed by dangerous property conditions. These victims should consider speaking with an experienced New York attorney to assess their situation and determine if they stand a chance at recovering damages and holding accountable those who caused them harm.
Source: Time Warner Cable News, "City Reaches Settlement in Overheated Rikers Cell Death," Mahsa Saeidi, Oct. 31, 2014