Vera Institute of Justice on Rikers Island Federal Receivership

11.17.22 - Today, federal judge Laura Taylor Swain will consider The Legal Aid Society’s request to appoint a federal receiver to run the jail complex on Rikers Island. Nick Turner, President and Director of the Vera Institute of Justice, issued the following statement:

“Despite seven years of guidance and oversight by a federally appointed monitor, New York City has failed to ensure even a modicum of safety or provide adequate health care, sanitary conditions, and basic nutrition to incarcerated New Yorkers. Receivership is a last resort, but at this point it’s necessary for Rikers and New York City jails, in which we’ve seen 34 deaths in less than two years and rates of violence not seen in decades. This sad conclusion reinforces our firm belief that Rikers must be closed for good by 2027, in accordance with New York City’s plan.

In order to end the longstanding crisis on Rikers Island, a federal receiver must rectify the unsafe facility infrastructure, address unrestrained absenteeism and other staff management issues, bring community-based organizations in to provide programming and services to the incarcerated population, hire external wardens and candidates for other uniformed leadership positions, and facilitate the city’s transition to a smaller, humane borough-based jail system.

Too often across the United States, jails fail to meet the minimum standards of care for incarcerated people and safe working conditions for correctional employees. Yet Rikers presents an extreme example of this failure. As a society, we must demand that jails and prisons uphold basic human dignity and that brutal living conditions—such as those at Rikers—be as rare as they are unthinkable.”

About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts 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. For more information, visit