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De Blasio: Isaabdul Karim, Parolee Who Died Sunday At Rikers, Not Among 191 Set For Release

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Another inmate died Sunday in custody on Rikers Island.

This is the 12th death at the jail in the last year amid a staffing shortage, spike in violence and deteriorating conditions.

The Department of Correction said 42-year-old as Isaabdul Karim died shortly before 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the infirmary.

"Mr. Isaabdul was not feeling well when a medical emergency was activated. He was taken to the clinic where CPR was rendered," the DOC said in a statement.

DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said the cause of death appeared to be natural, but the medical examiner will conduct a full investigation.

"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. The causes of this death so far appear to be natural, but that doesn't change the fact that we have serious issues in our jails," Schiraldi said in a statement.

Karim was held since Aug. 18 for failing to report to his parole office for months, and marijuana use, according to his attorneys, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

"Another life has been lost on Rikers -- another death sentence coming as a consequence of the crisis conditions on the island. I pray for the family of [Isaabdul Karim] -- they, and we all, need answers and the accountability that comes with them," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said in a statement.

"We are heartbroken and outraged to learn that Isaabdul Karim, a father of two young children, passed away last night at Rikers Island," Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the criminal defense practice at the Legal Aid Society, said in a statement. "Mr. Karim suffered from a host of medical issues for which he required a wheelchair. Adding to this, Mr. Karim contracted COVID-19 while mired in intake for 10 days, and he was denied access to his medications and critical medical care. He should have been in the community with his family, friends and network, not in a jail plagued by an ongoing humanitarian crisis."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Karim was not among the 191 parolees set to be released Friday under the newly signed Less is More Act.

According to the Department of Correction, 165 parolees have been released from Rikers so far, in an effort to address overcrowding, deaths, increased violence and severe staff shortages.

"Most of the others have an outstanding warrant of a different type, either from another jurisdiction or a different type of charge pending," de Blasio said.

Reducing the jail population is one step. De Blasio announced mandatory triple shifts, which has fueled dangers and burnout among correction officers, will end in October as more backup is hired.

Meanwhile, he said dozens of officers have been suspended under a new policy for not showing up for work.

Starting Monday, up to 40 Rikers inmates per day will be transferred to a state facility. In all, 200 will be moved to relieve overcrowding.

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