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Rikers Island jail complex reports second inmate death within days

Lawmakers report awful conditions at Rikers Island
Lawmakers report awful conditions at Rikers I... 10:16

A person in custody at the Vernon C. Bain Center died on Wednesday after appearing to be in "medical distress," according to the New York City Department of Correction. Stephen Khadu, 34, is the second Rikers Island inmate to die within the last three days, and the eleventh to die in the past year, officials said. 

"I am devastated to see that we have yet another death in custody, and determined to stop this heartbreaking trend," commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said in a statement Wednesday. "We are doing all we can to remedy the unprecedented crisis we are experiencing in our jails. My thoughts and prayers are with the individual's loved ones."

Khadu entered the department of corrections in 2019 on a 2nd degree murder charge, according to the corrections department. 

On Wednesday, he "appeared to be in medical distress" and a medical emergency was activated. He was transported to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx where he died at approximately 10:50 a.m., the corrections department said.

Khadu's death comes after Isaabdul Karim died in an infirmary on Rikers Island on Sunday. Schiraldi said his cause of death appeared to be natural, but it remains under investigation by the medical examiner, CBS New York reported. 

"Providing for the safety of incarcerated people is our core mission, and I am heartbroken that we have seen yet another death of a human being entrusted to our care," Schiraldi said Sunday. 

Situated in the East River near New York City, Rikers Island jail complex has been plagued with problems for years. New York State Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, who toured the complex with several fellow lawmakers, told CBS News' Lana Zak that the facilities are "in a state of emergency," alleging that she saw garbage, cockroaches and rotting food during her visit.

She called for New York Governor Kathy Hochul to enact the Less is More Act, which Hochul passed last week. 

The legislation releases those who are incarcerated on minor technical parole violations and addresses the facility's overpopulation issue. Hochul ordered the immediate release of 191 inmates housed at Rikers Island, as well as an additional 200 convicted who have lass than 60 to 90 days left in their sentence. 

The notorious jail facility is scheduled to close by 2027.

Khadu's death remains under investigation at this time.

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