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Latest death at Rikers makes it ‘deadliest year’ since 2013

November 1, 2022 Rob Abruzzese
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RIKERS ISLAND — A 26-year-old died at Rikers Island on Monday, making 2022 the deadliest year at the jail facility since 21 people died there in 2013.

Gilberto Garcia, a 26-year-old, was the 18th person to die while in custody at Rikers Island this year. Sixteen people died while incarcerated there in 2021.

“We send our deepest condolences to Mr. Garcia’s loved ones and family at this difficult time,” DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina said. “As with every death that occurs in custody, we will conduct a preliminary investigation into the cause and circumstances.”

Garcia entered DOC custody on November 2, 2019 on a first-degree robbery charge. First-degree robbery is considered a violent crime that is punishable by 5-to-25 years in state prison.

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There have now been 34 deaths since 2021 at Rikers Island and other DOC jails. Victor Pate, co-director of the #HaltSolitary campaign, called upon Mayor Eric Adams and city officials to stop sending people to “deathtrap jails” until safety can be improved.

“The rush to jail people in this political moment has real life and death consequences and few politicians are willing to answer for them,” Pate said. “We cannot continue to allow our government institutions to kill people. Although this administration has been given countless opportunities to turn things around, they have only made things worse and people continue to die.

“It is now way past time to begin releasing people from these horrific torture and death chambers,” Pate continued. “No more delays. No more waiting. This is not about being tough on crime and it’s certainly not about improving community safety. This is about racism, dehumanization, and a deliberate indifference to precious human life. Our thoughts are with Gilberto Garcia’s family as our feet march for his brothers, sisters, and cousins still languishing in these deathtrap jails.”

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