Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Rikers Angle: Inmate Said he was Moved to Cell Block Full of Trash and Feces During Hurricane Irene

After Hurricane Irene, there were two more follow up articles that brought new information. I had not seen these previously, and they bear noting and further reporting.

First, an article in City Limits last October by Jeanmarie Evelly further explored the issue of a full island evacuation, including comments from the previous NYC DOC commissioner.

Second, Janet Upadhye, writing in the Bronx Ink, reported on two people who were held at Rikers at the time of the storm. The first, Kendell Davis, tells his story through his mother; the second, Jason Mojica, was quoted directly by Upadhye. And his account is troubling indeed:
Mojica was out in the Sprungs, white canvas tents outside of the jail facilities, when he heard news of the storm. The Sprungs sit approximately 100 feet from the shore of the island. Mojica and the men in his tent were moved to indoor facilities where they would stay for the night. “They came Saturday afternoon and told us that we had to evacuate,” he said. “They said there was no room in the main facilities so we had to stay in condemned buildings on the other side of the island.”
He said that they were given buckets, brooms and mops to clean out the cells where they were to stay for the following 48 hours.
“The cells were awful,” Mojica said. “They were full of trash, feces and some black substance covering the floors. Some of the cells had no running water and toilets that would not flush.”
I can't find Mojica's story reported anywhere else. Mojica's account seems to me like the important part of all of this.

That detainees were moved from one facility to another at all was never mentioned by the DOC. It's not that they denied this happened, or that moving inmates is something inherently newsy, it's just that they didn't mention it at all when several of us asked about Rikers and the hurricane. It merits further reporting.

And Mojica's charges about where they were moved, and the conditions there, are of course most alarming. I'll ask DOC for comment, and try to get in touch with Mojica.


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