An inmate locked up at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center in Rikers Island in New York City tried to hang himself while politicians were touring the facility. Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and State Senator Jessica Ramos were walking through the intake area of the building, which houses the 400-bed Central Punitive Segregation Unit, when an inmate pointed to a man who jumped over a railing with a bedsheet around his neck.
"A man called me over and pointed to someone who jumped up on the bars and tried to use a bedsheet to kill themselves … I called a guard over. I think [the inmate] was OK," Gonzalez-Rojas said during a press conference outside the facility.
The Department of Corrections did not provide any details about the inmate or his condition.
Other officials who toured the facility were shocked by the "inhumane" conditions that the prisoners were forced to endure. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi called it a "humanitarian crisis" and said that the facility was so overcrowded that inmates were being kept in showers.
"It was hellish," she said, adding that many inmates were not receiving proper medical care or enough food and water.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said that the agency is working to improve conditions at the prison.
"I want to thank the elected officials for their visit, and we share their commitment to improving conditions. We have been very clear about the many challenges we have been facing for months, as well as everything we are doing to address the underlying conditions, and it is a good thing that the elected officials who visited today now have a first-hand picture. That can only help our efforts," Schiraldi said in a statement to amNewYork Metro.