The New York City Board of Corrections is investigating the death of Rikers Island inmate Joseph Foster, the New York Daily News reported. He died on Jan. 4 at a hospital after guards had callously ignored his calls for help during a medical emergency, highlighting the widespread problem of preventable in-custody deaths.
“They should have acted sooner. He kept screaming, ‘I need a doctor! I need a doctor!’” Carlos Renta, a Rikers inmate recalled.
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Jail supervisors took nearly an hour to call an ambulance for Foster, 51, after he complained about a massive headache and sudden numbness on his left side. Foster, who suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, died five days later at Elmhurst Hospital Center. He had been serving a six-month sentence for a drug sale.
It’s no surprise that this happened at Rikers. The jail complex will forever be linked to the death of Kalief Browder, who’s abuse and neglect as a juvenile at the jail is well documented. He spent three years at the facility after being accused of taking a backpack in 2010. The jail’s infamous history prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce its closure, which will take several years.
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Foster’s case is all too familiar. At least 815 people died in custody from preventable causes in the year after Sandra Bland‘s death in 2015, a Huffington Post investigation found. In that yearlong period, 12 individuals with diabetes, like Foster, died in custody. At least one of those case resulted in a criminal conviction against jail officials. Of the 815 in-custody deaths, 27 percent were from natural causes and 31 percent from apparent suicide. Many in-custody deaths happened within days after arrest. At least 182 inmates died within three days, and 121 died from four to seven days after getting locked up.
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10. Yvette Smith, 47Source:Getty 10 of 26
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15. Natasha McKenna, 37Source:Getty 15 of 26
16. Janisha Fonville, 20Source:Getty 16 of 26
17. Meagan Hockaday, 26Source:Getty 17 of 26
18. Alexia Christian, 25Source:Getty 18 of 26
19. Sandra Bland, 28Source:Getty 19 of 26
20. Gynnya McMillen, 16Source:Getty 20 of 26
21. Symone Marshall, 22Source:Getty 21 of 26
22. Korryn Gaines, 23Source:Getty 22 of 26
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26. Cariann Denise Hithon, 22Source:Getty 26 of 26
Inmate’s Death At Rikers Island Spotlights Jail Staff’s Disregard For His Life was originally published on newsone.com