Rikers Island inmate with mental health problems dies by suicide

A 25-year-old Rikers Island inmate who suffered from mental health problems hanged himself in his cell on Saturday afternoon, marking the fourth death in custody at the besieged prison complex so far this year, The Post has learned.

Dashawn Carter, who arrived at Rikers on Thursday for burglary and theft, was discovered around 5 p.m. by a corrections officer hanging from a sheet pinned to a window of his cell at the Anne M. Kross Center, according to internal records obtained by The Post. .

The prison guard cut the sheet and laid Carter on the bed. Eight minutes later, he was pronounced dead by a doctor at the scene, records show.

Correctional officers are required to visit living quarters regularly every 30 minutes, but many prison positions are still unmanned amid a staffing crisis, prison sources said. It wasn’t immediately clear how long Carter had been hanging out before he was noticed.

“Prisoners take care of themselves. “Nothing has changed” since Commissioner Louis Molina was named head of the prison in January by Mayor Eric Adams, a source said.

The source said Carter was known for his mental health problems and that he was hospitalized before being released back into the general population.

The city’s coroner determines the cause of death.

The prison guard cut the sheet and laid Carter on the bed. Eight minutes later, he was pronounced dead by a doctor at the scene.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

The prison is in crisis caused by a burgeoning prison population and a staff shortage that has put inmates and workers at risk.

Three other inmates have died in custody so far this year – two two days apart in March. Their causes of death have not yet been announced.

Last month, federal prosecutors in Manhattan told a judge they were “alarmed” by the ongoing violence in the prisons of the Department of Corrections — and came up with the idea of ​​a federal takeover if the agency didn’t improve conditions.

Rikers was plagued by a crisis caused by a burgeoning prison population and a staff shortage that put inmates and workers at risk.
EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Last November, The Post revealed that only a fraction of the uniformed DOC staff had completed the required refresher training on suicide prevention.

Rikers uniformed personnel must complete the course annually, but between Nov. 1, 2020 and Nov. 8, 2021, only about 2,400 of the roughly 8,800 had received the updated life-saving training, the official said.

During that same period, six inmates committed suicide while in DOC detention — more than the past five years combined and the highest inmate suicide rate since 2003, when the average prison population was 14,533, nearly triple the current number, according to City Data. .

Molina, the DOC commissioner, released a statement following Carter’s death saying that all deaths in custody are “a tragic event and a great loss.”

“We are truly heartbroken for this person’s family and loved ones and would like to express our deepest condolences,” Molina said.

“As with all deaths in custody, we will work with our partner agencies for an immediate and full investigation.”

In 2021, 16 people died in DOC detention – more than in 2019 and 2020 combined and the most deaths since 2016.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or going through a mental health crisis and live in New York City, call toll-free 1-888-NYC-WELL and confidential crisis counselingIf you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or Suicide PreventionLifeline.org

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