A New York City lawsuit against the Rikers Island jail complex was settled out of court, according to the New York State Department of Corrections. On May 7, the court dismissed the excessive force lawsuit filed by a former inmate who died in custody. The complaint was that the medical care he received was inadequate.
According to the complaint, James M. Winters Jr. was placed in solitary confinement after spending three weeks in the jail because of his injuries from a beating by other inmates. According to the lawsuit, he died in custody due to the excessive force used on him. New York City has settled a lawsuit stemming from the same incident for a total amount not to exceed $5.75 million.
Rikers Island Lawsuit
Winters is one of many former adolescent inmates who have been killed in New York City’s Rikers Island Jail since it opened in May of 1971. The lawsuit asserts that corrections officers and other employees of the Rikers Island jail system are guilty of brutality and excessive force when they are involved in an incident with adolescent inmates.
These claims are being investigated thoroughly by the New York State Department of Corrections and the New York City Police Department. The settlement agreement was announced by the courts, stating that both sides had reached a mutual agreement to resolve the matter amicably.
According to the lawsuit said, Winters was subjected to physical abuse and force while he was incarcerated at Rikers Island.
The lawsuit said that Winters sustained a broken hip and back, a fractured wrist, fractured vertebrae, permanent brain injury, and other mental health problems as a result of being repeatedly subjected to physical abuse while in solitary confinement. Winters family has hired a personal injury attorney in New York City to represent him in the lawsuit.
The family said that the excessive force utilized during the encounter broke Winters’ bones.
Winters also sustained a serious injury when he was pepper-sprayed during the arrest and taken to Rikers Island in shackles, which caused abrasions to his face, neck, and shoulders, according to the lawsuit. The family is asking for punitive damages on all accounts. The family also wants the Department of Correction to implement measures to ensure that juvenile offenders are not placed in solitary confinement when there are mental health issues present.
The brutality of the prison environment at Rikers Island is part of the reason that the Department of Correction is responsible for the oversight of the New York City Police Department.
Winters is one of over two hundred adolescent inmates who have been pepper-sprayed by New York City police while in solitary confinement. The city is also responsible for the medical treatment of the teens who suffer from injuries resulting from excessive force used against them while being transported from Rikers Island to various locations across the city.
The lawsuit says that the officers are not using sufficient force to subdue the inmates. The settlement agreement will go a long way towards ensuring that Winters is able to live a life free from the fear and danger of solitary confinement.
The Department of Correction is responsible for supervising the facilities at Rikers Island, but since solitary confinement is a violation of the constitutional rights of an individual, it is up to the court to ensure compliance with its findings and orders.
The city has an attorney who is responsible for ensuring that the corrections officers do not use excessive force when arresting people and they do not use excessive force when transporting individuals to and from the jail. The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Winters, but the department has already agreed to the lawsuit.
The department said that although Winters sustained an injury when he was pepper-sprayed, the injury was not considered a state or federal felony, according to court documents.