BDS Testimony before New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice regarding Self-Harm and Suicide Prevention in City Jails

The best way for the City to prevent suicide and self-harm in the jails is to stop sending people to Rikers Island and focus on diverting them from the criminal legal system altogether. New York City jails have long been in a state of crisis; a violent, mismanaged disaster and a stain on this city. It has been clearly documented by endless testimonies from people in custody, health and correctional staff, correctional experts, major newspapers and networks, and by the federal monitor who has released over a dozen reports. The level of crisis in the jails cannot be overstated. People are suffering and dying. They are enduring mental health and medical crises without access to medication or care. They are starving without regular or sufficient meals. They are living in filthy conditions, held in units surrounded by literal garbage. Toilets are broken and overflowing into living areas. Intake cells are over capacity, people are being confined for days and weeks inside showers with no beds, mattresses, or toilets, and are sleeping on floors of showers covered in urine, vomit, and feces. People in custody—including those with no preexisting conditions—are experiencing rapid deterioration of their physical and mental health. With units going unstaffed, New Yorkers are left crying out for help while locked in a cell with no officer at their post.

View the full testimony here.

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