ECBA Clients Achieve $1 Million Settlement and Major Reforms Barring City from Sending Young Rikers Detainees to Solitary Confinement at Albany County Jail

On October 18, 2019, ECBA clients Davon Washington, Steven Espinal, Pariis Tillery, and John Doe reached a significant settlement of their civil rights claims against the City of New York, Albany County, individual correctional defendants, and a jail medical provider.

Plaintiffs are four young men who filed suit in 2018 after the City of New York abruptly transferred them from Rikers to an Albany County “black site” jail.  Upon arrival upstate, the four young men were systematically subjected to brutal beatings and sexual assaults by jail guards, suffering severe injuries including a perforated eardrum.  For the entirety of their time at the Albany County Jail, they were held in solitary confinement, cut off from meaningful human contact and isolated from family, adequate medical care, and their lawyers.  These events came just three years after New York City banned solitary confinement for detainees ages 21 and younger, and restricted the practice for all detainees.  By sending plaintiffs to Albany County, DOC conducted an “end run” around solitary confinement restrictions.

As part of Friday’s settlement, the City agreed to no longer transfer any person detained at Rikers to Albany County through December 31, 2021, and agreed to start providing a written notice to any detainee that is transferred out of Rikers to any other jail on a Substitute Jail Order.  Albany County agreed that if DOC detainees are sent to its jail in the future, they will follow New York City’s rules about solitary confinement, through December 31, 2023.

Plaintiff Davon Washington told The New York Times, “In the future nobody will have to go through what we went through. They won’t have to experience that feeling.”

“The City’s responsibility for (prisoners’) well-being doesn’t stop at the northern border of the Bronx.  It doesn’t end by shipping them somewhere else,” said Doug Lieb, co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs in this case are represented by Katie Rosenfeld and Doug Lieb of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and Steven Goldman of Goldman & Associates.

Read the New York Times and NY Daily News coverage here and here.

Read our original press of the story here.

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