Another Death At Rikers Island Adds To The ‘Very Difficult Year’ For New York City’s Jails


A Brooklyn guy was held at the Rikers Island jail complex died on Friday as a result of a medical emergency, becoming the 15th person to die this year in New York City’s correctional system, which is in crisis.

Malcolm Boatwright, 28, has been hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital Center since Thursday after experiencing seizures, according to corrections and labor officials. He died early Friday morning after suffering from a heart attack, however his official cause of death was yet unknown.

Mr. Boatwright, who has autism, had been imprisoned for about a month on sexual assault and related allegations, according to court documents. He had been kept held on Rikers Island pending the findings of a mental assessment requested by his defense counsel in the case, in which he was accused of touching the genitals of a 6-year-old kid.


Officials have tried to respond to two colliding crises: a pandemic and a staffing shortage that has paralyzed the criminal justice system. Since 2016, this has been the deadliest year in New York City prisons.

His death comes shortly after a national monitor assigned to supervise reforms at the disturbed jail complex wrote in his most recent report that the Dept of Correction was “trapped in a state of disrepair” with really no indication of massive improvement, describing it as a system “rife with violence and disorder.”

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Lashawn Boatwright, Mr. Boatwright’s mother, claimed her son had the mentality of an 11-year-old but was in fine physical health when he entered Rikers.

Mr. Boatwright informed his mother that he had been checked out and was being returned to the jail while at Bellevue.

Mr. Boatwright was discovered on the floor by an officer visiting the medical ward, and he seemed unwell and unconscious, according to Joseph Russo, head of the union representing deputy security guards and assistant deputy corrections officers. Mr. Boatwright slipped into cardiac arrest after the officer phoned for help, according to Mr. Russo.

Mr. Boatwright had told his mother that the conditions in the jail, where he had been detained since November 12, were appalling.

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