New York City has agreed to pay more than $53 million to settle a class-action lawsuit covering over 4,000 suspects who were held in harsh conditions at jails on Rikers Island and in the Manhattan Detention Complex, commonly known as the Tombs. The proposed agreement, which requires approval from a federal judge to be finalized, addresses detainees who were held in the facilities from March 2018 to June 2022.
The settlement comes in response to allegations that detainees were subjected to severe and inhumane conditions, including being confined to tight spaces and deprived of sunlight, while awaiting their trials. As part of the terms, the city will pay $400 for each day the detainees were housed at the "covered facilities," which include two facilities on Rikers Island and a housing area in the Manhattan Detention Complex.
“People confined in the Covered Facilities were denied sufficient access to programming, recreation, a dayroom, natural light, freedom of movement, and psychological monitoring, among other deprivations,” the proposed settlement states.
Additionally, inmates determined to have a serious mental illness or under 22 while detained in these conditions will receive an extra $50 per day. The proposed settlement was filed on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.
This landmark settlement sends a strong message that such treatment of detainees is unacceptable and that cities must take responsibility for the conditions in their jails. The agreement highlights the importance of treating all individuals, regardless of their legal status, with dignity and respect.
The payout also serves as a reminder that local governments must prioritize the well-being of those in their custody and that mistreatment can result in significant financial consequences. As such, the settlement is expected to prompt other cities to reevaluate their jail policies and procedures to avoid similar lawsuits in the future.
The proposed $53 million settlement is a significant step towards addressing the inhumane conditions in New York City's jails, particularly on Rikers Island and in the Manhattan Detention Complex. It is a crucial reminder that local governments are responsible for ensuring the well-being of those in their custody and that failing to do so can have serious consequences.
By compensating the affected individuals and drawing attention to this critical issue, this settlement not only brings justice to the detainees but also paves the way for much-needed reforms to improve jail conditions across the country. The hope is that this case will serve as a catalyst for change and encourage cities nationwide to reevaluate and improve their jail policies and practices.