Fourth inmate dies at Rikers Island as deadline to fix crisis-plagued NYC prison looms

A 25-year-old homeless man died in an apparent suicide at Rikers Island on Saturday, just two days after being returned to the troubled New York prison from a psychiatric hospital.

DaShawn Carter was found dead in his cell at the Anna M. Kross Center just after 5pm, the fourth inmate to die at Rikers this year. Two died in the space of a few days in March.

Mr Carter was in custody on charges of first degree robbery and third degree burglary, the New York City Department of Corrections said in a statement.

His death is under investigation by the state Attorney General.

A source with knowledge of the incident told The New York Times Mr Carter had been cleared to return to the prison by mental health officials on Thursday, and was being held in general population.

In 2021, 15 inmates died at or shortly after leaving Rikers Island. All were men of colour. The wave of deaths and gang violence at the prison has led to calls from Democratic politicians for it to be closed.

Lawmakers who visited the site in September 2021 reported overflowing toilets and floors covered in dead cockroaches, faeces and rotting food.

Campaigners have long called for Rikers Island to be closed

(Getty Images)

New York’s newly appointed Department of Correction Commissioner Louis A Molina is due to present a plan to fix problems at the prison in the coming days, or face having to turn over control of the city’s largest jail to federal authorities.

“Any death in custody is a tragic event and an impactful loss,” Mr Molina said in a statement on Sunday.

“We are truly heartbroken for this person’s family and loved ones and we wish to express our deepest condolences. As with all deaths in custody, we will work with our partner agencies on an immediate and full investigation.”

Mr Molina is due to file his plan to save Rikers by 17 May, and will face a hearing on 24 May.

An October 2021 report found Rikers was under the control of its nearly 5,000-strong prison population.

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