Rikers Island inmates denounce lack of medical care
Shiva Ramdhanie was arrested on August 11 and charged with a non-violent violation of his parole. He was sent to Rikers and every day since he fears for his life.
âI’m not trying to get out of jail, I’m trying to get out of death,â Ramdhanie said in a phone interview while on the island.
According to Ramdhanie, he was stabbed in the eye by another inmate in a scuffle that lasted for hours when his housing unit was unstaffed. NY1 corroborated Ramdhanie’s account with her lawyer who claims her client is being denied proper medical treatment.6 +
âI’m trying to get out of death and it’s coming for me. My eye is infected, I have broken bones. I don’t know how to explain this,â Ramdhanie said.
After being stabbed, Ramdhanie says he managed to get to the clinic with the help of other inmates after he managed to get his hands on the keys to the prison cells.
“No medical treatment at all for hours until one of the inmates got the key and I limped down with the help of other inmates for a medical examination,” Ramdhanie said.
Ramdhanie’s claims illustrate only one aspect of what is described as a humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island. ‘
Zachary Katznelson, executive director of the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform in New York City, which drafted a plan to shut down Rikers Island, said residents of Rikers are currently denied basic rights such as access to food, a clean place to sleep and access to basic health care.
“It is a fundamental right and constitutional right under New York City and State law that everyone detained in prison shall be treated fairly and humane, shall receive basic medical care and fundamentally needs to be kept alive, âKatznelson said.
So far this year, 11 people have died in detention by the department, including Isaabdul Karim, a 42-year-old father of two who died on Sunday. Karim had previously been detained on Rikers. He has filed a complaint against the city for his treatment while in detention, according to reports.
Karim, who needed a wheelchair and complained of chest pain before his death, was held in an admission cell for ten days after his arrest, crammed with other inmates where he contracted COVID -19.
âThe vast majority of the people on Rikers Island, over 90 percent are pre-trail,â Katznelson said. “They weren’t found guilty of anything, they’re biding their day in court and they should all get it.”
Ramdhanie says he was held in an admission unit similar to the one where Karim was held for days.
âThe toilets weren’t working, so you know people were relieving themselves in garbage bags,â Ramdhanie said.
NY1 spoke to the families of four other inmates who all reported a lack of proper medical attention for chronic health conditions or no medical attention after their loved ones suffered injuries.
Health care in Rikers is administered by Correctional Health Services, a branch of the city’s health and hospital system. But sources on the island say medical services cannot be provided adequately if there are not enough officers to escort detainees and ensure the safety of medical staff.
On Tuesday, the mayor of Blasio said two clinics and an additional housing unit had been opened on the island to ease overcrowding in admissions.
âEveryone has to go through admission within 24 hours,â said de Blasio.
State Attorney General Letitia James visited the island on Tuesday with prosecutors from Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn. She released a statement saying her office is examining all legal options to immediately resolve the crisis on the island.
Meanwhile, Ramdhanie continues without the medical help he sought.
âIt’s come to the point of no return, there’s no way it’s Armageddon here,â he said. “Devastation, chaos and evil, this is hell in here.”