Statement from the Vera Institute of Justice on the Death of Anthony Scott

Yesterday, Anthony Scott became the fourteenth person to die in 2021 in New York City jails. Scott, who is autistic and died by suicide while being held on $15,000 money bail, is yet another tragic example of the City’s failure to act on the public health and safety crisis happening in its correctional facilities.

Fully aware of the conditions on Rikers Island, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance allowed $15,000 bail to be set on Scott's case, rather than requesting treatment, counseling, medical attention, or any number of interventions that could have adequately addressed this situation.

Anthony Scott’s suicide is the sixth this year alone in city jails. This is not normal or routine; although Rikers Island has never been a humane place, there were no documented suicides in 2018, 2019, and 2020. We will continue to call on New York City’s District Attorneys and other government actors to change course and address this unprecedented crisis at Rikers Island. Scott’s death is further proof that the steps taken so far are inadequate.

The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.