August 27, 2011, New York – Today, in response to news not only that Mayor Bloomberg announced the City of New York does not plan to evacuate the 12,000 prisoners at Rikers Island in advance of Hurricane Irene, but that according to the Department of Corrections no hypothetical plan for evacuation even exists, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the City to act immediately to protect the prisoners. The following statement can be attributed to CCR Executive Director Vince Warren:
"We’re extremely concerned by Mayor Bloomberg's announcement yesterday that there were no plans to evacuate Rikers Island in preparation for Hurricane Irene. Rikers is located on a small island in an area at extreme risk of flooding. There’s no way of knowing how severe the storm will be, but the Mayor has shut down the entire public transit system and evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from vulnerable neighborhoods in low-lying areas just like Rikers Island yet seems prepared to leave the roughly 12,000 men and women jailed there to their fate.
"It is appalling that the City administration is abandoning the men and women at Rikers even after the lessons of hurricane Katrina when inmates at Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans spent days under horrific conditions of flooding and power outages with prisoners confined in life threatening conditions even as prison staff abandoned them.
"The Mayor must take appropriate action immediately to protect the life and safety of everyone confined at Rikers Island and all vulnerable corrections facilities in New York City. Their lives should not be treated as less valuable than those of other New Yorkers."
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.