BDS Testimony before New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice regarding Drugs in the New York City Jails

The best way for the city to prevent drug use, overdose, and death in its jails is to stop sending people to Rikers Island and focus on diverting them from the criminal legal system altogether. The city jails are in a state of crisis and the Department of Correction (DOC) has continuously failed to protect the health and safety of people incarcerated in its custody.3 Just this weekend, Erick Tavira became the seventeenth person to die in DOC custody–surpassing last year’s death toll of sixteen lives lost. An unprecedented 33 people have died in the city jails in just under two years–many from overdose and suicide. Acute drug intoxication–or overdose–has been identified as the suspected cause of death in at least four of the deaths this year and four last year. The Council must take immediate action to call for decarceration and push stakeholders—including the mayor, district attorneys, and judges—to work together to stop sending people into DOC custody, increase use of supervised release, alternatives to detention (ATD) programs, and release people currently in city jails. This is critical for the safety of all, particularly those living with substance use disorders or mental illness.

View the full testimony here.

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