Gothamist: Without laundry service, Rikers detainees wash clothes in toilets and showers, lawyers say

Gothamist reports that, in violation of minimum standards set by the Board of Corrections, detainees at Rikers face a widespread and persistent lack of basic laundry services, which contributes to inhumane conditions.

"Detainees at the Rikers Island jails have not had regular laundry service for at least a year, leaving them to wash their clothes in toilet bowls and on their bodies in the shower and to dry wet sheets on beds and in cells, according to three attorneys who represent detainees."


"Under the city Board of Correction’s minimum standards, the DOC must give detainees one shirt, one pair of pants, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, a pair of shoes and a sweater. The standards require the clothes to be laundered or exchanged at the department's expense twice per week. Detainees also receive two sheets, which are supposed to be laundered weekly by the department.

But advocates for detainees say laundry service is inconsistent at Rikers, if it's provided at all. They say this has led to detainees finding ways to wash their own clothes and bedding, or simply living in filthy items — whether or not those incarcerated actively complain about it.

Last week, Michael Klinger, a jail services attorney with the nonprofit Brooklyn Defender Services, filed a new complaint with the board and DOC on behalf of a man who says he and others detained in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center have not had access to laundry services in two months."


"One detainee in a wheelchair with two broken legs who is currently held in the North Infirmary Command — where detainees who are seniors or have medical issues are housed — has been complaining about a lack of laundry services since last summer, said Bronx Defenders Prisoners' Rights Project director Tahanee Dunn.

She said detainees there have gone up to two months without getting new sheets and towels and were forced to wash clothes and bedding in the shower, buckets or toilet bowls. A number of people in the unit suffer from incontinence and have accidents on themselves or their beds, according to Dunn — and then they're unable to access clean laundry, leaving them in dangerously unhygienic conditions."

Read the full article here.

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