Inside notorious NYC prison Rikers Island where inmate horrifically 'died in squalor and prisoners cleaned up the mess'

TORTURE Island and Gladiator School are just two nicknames given to Rikers Island, the notorious New York jail which is reportedly becoming even more violent.

Board of Correction staff found that staffing and supplies issues lead to “horrible conditions,” with many inmates living in filth, and not “receiving recreation or meals on a regular schedule.”

Conditions are so severe that earlier this week, the New York Post reports, an inmate tried to hang himself during a visit from politicians.


Fresh information about the deplorable conditions comes from a preliminary report filed to the Board of Corrections into the death of an inmate.

The review covered the intake area, where Thomas Earl Braunson III  died after allegedly spending several days with dozens of other men in cramped, unsanitary, dangerous conditions.

Nonprofit news platform THE CITY obtained a copy of an initial review of the facility through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Board of Correction staff found that many inmates didn’t have sheets or blankets, and none had pillows.

Braunson was a  35-year-old father, jailed for a parole violation. No autopsy report has been issued yet, despite his dying in April.

Another prisoner, whose name was redacted from the review, said he had just breakfast with Braunson when he announced he wasn’t feeling well. 

After another inmate smelled feces in Braunson’s area, the inmates went to investigate and found Braunson dead. 


After the Department of Corrections responded to the emergency, inmates were moved to the gym, where they were allegedly left with no air conditioning or food for hours, according to the report.

After Braunson died, the report says, prison staff did not clean up the area or notify health services.

Instead, inmates allegedly carried out Braunson’s bloody mattress without gloves or equipment and notified Correctional Health Services of his death when staff failed to do so.

Rikers Island complex is made up of ten jails and mainly houses inmates awaiting trial.

It is notorious for its reported brutality, with hundreds of stabbings each year, and rising rates of self-harm and attempted suicide.

Prison staff came under harsh scrutiny in 2014 after an investigation revealed that some correction officers were selling scalpel blades, heroin, and other contraband to inmates.

More recently, Rikers Island was characterized as a potential site of “mass death” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with being trapped in close conditions that facilitated spread of Covid-19, Rikers inmates were also conscripted to bury coronavirus victims in mass trenches on Hart Island last spring.

In 2019, the City Council voted to close Rikers Island, with a goal closure date of 2026.

The timeline for the prison’s closure has been continually extended, with reporting from last year putting the shutdown date in 2027.

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