Lawmakers Call NYC Jail 'Horror Island' After Seeing Inmate's Attempted Suicide on Tour

New York lawmakers are describing the inhumane conditions at one city jail after witnessing an inmate's attempted suicide on a private tour.

More than a dozen state and local politicians toured Rikers Island on Monday. Speaking at a press conference after the walk-through, Democratic Assemblyman Kenny Burgos told reporters he'd just witnessed "horror island."

"My visit was gut-wrenching and I saw first-hand the horrific conditions at this facility," Burgos wrote on Twitter. "Those who are currently being held are suffering, and 10 people have died at Rikers this year alone."

Lawmakers said cells were overcrowded and garbage littered the floors. In some cases, showers were being used as cells.

"I just witnessed an attempted suicide," Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said at the news conference. "'Miss, come here.' Jumped up there and tried to hang themselves. Me and Senator Ramos were right there."

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said he immediately called Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio after the tour at Rikers Island to demand they visit the facility and take action.

"What I saw yesterday was a state of emergency," Williams told PIX11 News on Tuesday. "Quite frankly it was all but dysfunction. It is not safe in there for anyone on both sides of those bars."

When asked about the lawmaker's comments, Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi told Newsweek: "I want to thank the elected officials for their visit, and we share their commitment to improving conditions. We have been very clear about the many challenges we have been facing for months, as well as everything we are doing to address the underlying conditions, and it is a good thing that the elected officials who visited today now have a first-hand picture. That can only help our efforts."

Rikers Island houses nearly 6,000 detainees and employs thousands of officers. A staffing crisis has recently plagued the jail as officers have stopped reporting for duty, fueling increased violence and neglect.

Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, told NY1 last week that unsafe conditions are leading officers to call in sick. Boscio also said that the city hasn't hired new correctional officers in three years.

Lawmakers Call NYC Jail 'Horror Island'
New York lawmakers are describing the inhumane conditions at one city jail after witnessing an inmate’s attempted suicide on a private tour. In this photo. a sign marks the location of the Rikers Correctional Center in the East River on March 9, 2021. Gary Hershom/Getty Images

At least 10 detainees have died at Rikers since December, including a 24-year-old inmate from last week. The cause of his death is under investigation by the medical examiner's office.

Hochul, the Empire State's new governor following Andrew Cuomo's resignation last month, said she will consider legislation that will allow people on parole who are accused of non-criminal technical violations—such as missed curfews or marijuana use—to be issued a violation instead of being sent back to jail.

"I will absolutely take a serious look at that. I am very concerned about what is going on in our city jails, without a doubt," Hochul said at a press conference on September 8. "The conditions are inhumane, substandard, and not acceptable in the State of New York."

Updated 12:15 p.m. ET, with comment from DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.